Special Olympics Canada Games coming to Antigonish

ANTOGONISH: StFX University and the town surrounding it are fixing to be a busy spot from July 31 to August 4 as the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games will have a total of 1027 athletes visit our corner of Nova Scotia.

“Even as an Acadia guy, I think this will be an amazing venue for our athletes,” said Matt Quinn, games manager for the Special Olympics.

“We needed a venue that could host us and had a university-style setup. In the city, there were places like SMU or Dalhousie but there was also StFX. In my personal experience of running games with Special Olympics Nova Scotia, it was an easy pick knowing the campus, knowing the setup, and knowing the people working with us.”

While 1027 athletes will be competing, the total number of visitors is much higher. Once coaches and staff are factored in, that number swells to 1451. And of course, that doesn’t include the family members of the athletes who’ll be visiting or the volunteers.

This will be the second time the province of Nova Scotia held a National Summer Games, having last hosted the event in 1994.

Quinn said having the Game take place in a relatively small area makes logistics far easier.

“At StFX, you can wake up, walk to your breakfast and walk to your room, walk to all your sporting events, and the few things off campus, they have a three-minute drive to get there,” he said.

“StFX allows the entire population of the Games to be on their own schedules. In my opinion, that’s a massive difference in your overall experience of the games. People will be a lot more relaxed and not so overwhelmingly bombarded with the schedule and the need to be on time.”

The Special Olympics Canada Summer Games is a national sporting event for competitive athletes with intellectual disabilities. Each athlete must qualify at the local and provincial level before coming to the National Games. The Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games is also a qualifying event for athletes to represent Canada at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

There are nine sports featured at the Games: athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball and swimming. There are also three major sponsors, Quinn said, including Michelin, Sobeys and the provincial government.

“I encourage everyone to come watch our athletes compete. There are no tickets to the competition, and for those who’ve never seen Special Olympics before, they’ll see something really special.”