The 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games will bring up to 1,800 athletes with an intellectual disability, volunteer coaches and officials from across the country to Vancouver to compete at the University of British Columbia. The athletes will go for gold in 11 sports, including swimming, five- and ten-pin bowling, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball, and track and field, in addition to three new sports: basketball, bocce, and golf.
"We know that Vancouver will be a gracious host for Special Olympics' most important competition in this country, the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games," said Michael Howlett, president and CEO for Special Olympics Canada. "Cathy Priestner Allinger is a respected and proven sport leader who we know will deliver amazing experiences for the athletes and honor our commitment to sport excellence."
Priestner Allinger will bring a wealth of experience and sport expertise to her role as chair of the 2014 Games Organizing Committee. An Olympic medalist in speed skating, Priestner Allinger played a key role in the staging of the hugely successful 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in B.C., as Executive Vice-President, Sport, Paralympics and Games Operations.
In addition, Priestner Allinger co-authored Own The Podium, the landmark report that energized and transformed the Canadian sport system in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympic Games.
She also brings significant experience with Special Olympics to the table, having served as a member of the board of directors of Special Olympics BC since 2007.
"Special Olympics competitions are unlike any other sporting events in the unsurpassed inspiration, sportsmanship, and pure joy demonstrated by the dedicated athletes, coaches, and officials," Priestner Allinger said. "With my team, I'm determined to make the best Games experience for athletes and their families."
"These national Games will mark the return of this competition to the province. We are proud to welcome athletes with an intellectual disability from all over Canada to share the life-changing experience of competing in a national Games here in B.C.," said Michael Campbell, chair of the board of directors of Special Olympics BC. Vancouver and B.C. first hosted the Special Olympics Canada Games in 1990.
The Special Olympics Canada Games are the premier national sporting event for the country's Special Olympics athletes. Athletes who train in year-round programs in their home communities qualify for the national games by competing in regional qualifiers and provincial games. Performances in Vancouver 2014 could earn them the right to represent Canada at the next Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2015.
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 year-round 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 enrolled in Active Start to mature adults, more than 34,000 children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability are registered in Special Olympics programs across Canada, and they are supported by more than 16,000 volunteers, including more than 13,000 trained coaches. For more information, visit www.specialolympics.ca or follow it on Facebook and on Twitter (@SpecialOCanada).