Canada's Best Special Olympics Athletes Have Arrived

More than 2,000 Special Olympics Athletes, Coaches and Officials arrive in Vancouver for the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games

VANCOUVER, July 7, 2014 /CNW/ - Special Olympics Canada welcomes over 2,000 athletes, coaches and officials to Vancouver for the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games, which kick off tomorrow evening with the Opening Ceremonies.  The Games, the largest in Special Olympics Canada's history with 11 sports, run from July 8July 12 at the University of British Columbia. 

"This week will be a celebration of competition, athleticism and sport featuring some of Canada's top athletes from across the country who have worked for the past three years to prepare for the Games and pursue their dreams at the national level," said Cathy Priestner-Allinger, Chair of the 2014 Games Organizing Committee. 

"Sport builds bridges; it strengthens communities; it opens doors and it breaks down barriers. It has the ability to change, enrich and transform lives and we want all British Columbians – and all Canadians – to reap the benefits," said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. "It is truly a privilege to support events like these Games, which give our nation's best Special Olympics athletes a chance to shine, to test their skills, to forge friendships and to experience the thrill of high-calibre competition."

The Province of British Columbia, along with the Government of Canada, are major sponsors of the 2014 Games, joining others from across Canada's private and public sectors to provide the necessary support to host the Games.

For the first time, the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games will feature 11 sports: 10- and 5-pin bowling, athletics, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming, basketball, bocce and golf.  The latter three sports are new for the national games. Visit the website for details on each individual sport.  Over 2,300 medals will be awarded over the course of the Games. 

"Special Olympics Canada is looking forward to a terrific National Summer Games. This week's events are a culmination of years and months of time committed not only by the athletes and coaches, but by the volunteer members of the Games Organizing Committee and the 1,000 Games time volunteers," said Sharon Bollenbach, Special Olympics Canada's CEO. "We are so grateful for their time and expertise and have no doubts their hard work will result in an outstanding and truly memorable experience for everyone involved."

In addition to the hundreds of spectators and family members, the athletes will be cheered on by some of Canada's top celebrity athletes including NHL stars Willie Mitchell and Jake Gardiner, BC Lions Quarterback Travis Lulay, Vancouver Whitecaps' Jay DeMerit and Olympians Mark Tewksbury, Catriona Le May Doan and Jamie Salé.  

The opening ceremonies take place tomorrow, July 8 from 7:00 p.m.9:00 p.m. at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sport Centre.  The Opening Ceremonies will feature performances by Tyson Venegas and Victoria Duffield.

For the full competition and events schedule, visit the Vancouver 2014 Games website, http://www.vancouver2014.com/competition/events-schedule/.

Media across the country are encouraged to register in advance to obtain their accreditation and/or to be added to the media distribution list which will receive daily updates on 2014 Games activities, athletes' results and exclusive materials and advisories.  The accreditation details are available here: http://www.vancouver2014.com/news/media-accreditation.

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 the transformative power and joy of sport. Operating out of sport clubs in 12 provincial and territorial Chapters, 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 37,000 athletes with an intellectual disability are registered in Special Olympics' year-round programs across Canada. They are supported by more than 17,000 volunteers, including more than 13,000 trained coaches.

SOURCE Special Olympics Canada

For further information: Phone: 604-230-5473, news@vancouver2014.com; Cheryl Maitland Muir, 604-812-5965; Tera Nelson, 604-785-4319