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Nelson's Ian Walgren ready to compete at Special Olympics Canada Winter Games

Ian Walgren will be joined by coach and father Bruce Walgren at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games February 25-29 in Thunder Bay, Ont. — Submitted photo

Ian Walgren is winding down five-to-six days a week training as the Nelson speed skater prepares to head east to compete at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020 later this month in Northern Ontario.

Walgren joins coach, and father Bruce Walgren, as well as more than 140 other athletes from Team BC at the games set for February 25-29.

“I'm excited to be a part of Team BC 2020,” Ian Walgren said on the eve of the National competition.

“It’s going to be cool and awesome when it comes to being one of the racers.  I can’t wait to go.”

Competing in speed skating, Walgren will be part of the more than 1,200 delegation of participants from Canada’s ten provinces and two of three territories in Thunder Bay, creating an outstanding display of sport and sportsmanship in eight sports.

The sports include 5-pin bowling, alpine skiing, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing, and speed skating. This is the first time 5-pin bowling will be part of National Winter Games, having previously been part of the summer sport cycle.

Comprised of 143 athletes with intellectual disabilities, 42 volunteer coaches, and 13 mission staff from 42 communities around the province, Special Olympics Team BC 2020 is well prepared to shine on the national stage and showcase their abilities.

“This is an incredibly well-prepared provincial team. I am so proud of the dedication and effort shown by all of these inspiring athletes, coaches, and volunteers,” said Michelle Cruickshank, Special Olympics Team BC 2020 Chef de Mission.

“They have been working hard for three years to reach this event, and I know they will do B.C. proud at National Games. Their abilities and their sportsmanship will inspire everyone watching.”

Since qualifying for their spots on Team BC 2020 through their performances at the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games in Greater Vernon, the provincial team athletes and coaches have been hard at work to be at their best at the National Games, training at least three times a week for the last 10 months. Training has included sport-specific work in our local year-round Special Olympics programs, participating in Club Fit, additional fitness and dryland training, working with sport-specific experts, and focusing on diet and nutrition.

The Special Olympics Games cycle operates on a four-year cycle for both summer and winter sports. Athletes compete in regional events and then Provincial Games to advance to National Games, and Special Olympics Canada Games are the qualifiers for international Special Olympics competition.