Special Olympics Team Canada records a gold-medal finish at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang

TORONTO, Feb. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Special Olympics Team Canada crossed the finish line at the close of the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea with a total of 109 medals - 44 gold, 44 silver,  and 21 bronze.

This medal count is up from the 101 medals won by the national team at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Boise, Idaho, setting a new record for Special Olympics Team Canada.

"I am very proud of Special Olympics Team Canada, and what they accomplished together," said Jennifer Campbell, Special Olympics Team Canada's Chef de Mission.  "As athletes and leaders, they took on new challenges fearlessly, and demonstrated to all of us what it means to be dedicated."

Special Olympics Team Canada delivered exceptionally strong performances over the course of the 2013 World Winter Games, the largest sporting event in the world this year. Several Special Olympics Team Canada athletes medalled in multiple events, including triple gold medallists Stephen Graham of speed skating and Michael Gilbert of alpine skiing.

In addition to the steadfast determination of Special Olympics Team Canada's coaches, mission staff, and athletes, Campbell credited Special Olympics Canada's National Team Program, funded by Sport Canada, for the team's overall success.

"Special Olympics Team Canada is fortunate for the financial support of the Government of Canada which covered key elements of the team's performance preparation for the world games," Campbell said. "We were able to hold two training camps per sport and to direct funds to each individual athlete for needs specific to their training."

The eight-day international sporting event came to a close on February 5, with a dynamic closing ceremony that celebrated the many achievements of the thousands of athletes who took part in the Games. Festivities kicked off with the Parade of Nations with members of the 111 nations who participated in the Games, where alpine skiing athlete Erin Thom and Head Coach Michel Guyon represented Canada with pride and spirit.

The ceremonies also featured performances by champion figure skater Michelle Kwan and Korean skating star Yuna Kim. Special Olympics Team Canada figure skaters Jonathan Edwards, Janie McGraw, David Mullaly-Robertson, Marc Theriault, Carlea Wilkie-Ellis, Jessica Young, and Kennedy Zaytsoff had the honour of being invited to skate with Kim and Kwan alongside a number of other Special Olympics athletes. Korean pop stars, led by The Wonder Girls, entertained the crowd at Yongpyong Dome.

The 141-person team began its journey to PyeongChang, Republic of Korea, on January 24 when they gathered together in Vancouver for the first time as a team. They flew the next day to Seoul, and spent two days at Soon Chun Hyang University in the city of Asan as part of the Games' host town program. They arrived in PyeongChang on January 29 in time for the Opening Ceremonies, and for the first day of competition on January 30. The team is set to arrive in Canada on February 6.

Daily reports chronicling the team's journey are available on the team's website (www.teamcanada2013.ca). In addition, images are accessible for download with attribution on Flickr.

About Special Olympics Canada
Established in 1969, the Canadian chapter of this international movement is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport. Operating out of sport clubs in all Canadian provinces and territories, except Nunavut, this grassroots movement reaches beyond the sphere of sports to empower individuals, change attitudes and build communities. From two-year-olds to mature adults, more than 35,000 children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability are registered in Special Olympics year-round programs across Canada, and they are supported by more than 17,100 volunteers, including more than 13,500 trained coaches.

For more information, visit www.specialolympics.ca or follow us on Facebook and on Twitter (@SpecialOCanada).

SOURCE: Special Olympics Canada

For further information:

Mary-Margaret Jones
Marketing and Public Relations
Special Olympics Canada
T: 416.927.9050, ext. 4383
E: mmjones@specialolympics.ca