Special Olympians compete at nationals

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The 50th year for Special Olympics was a memorable one for Special Olympics Tillsonburg.


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Four local athletes competed at the national level in 2018, including three who just returned from the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and one athlete who competed in the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Fivepin Bowling Championships in Charlottetown, PEI, May 15-19.

Opening ceremonies in Antigonish took place July 31st, and the first events followed on August 1st at Saint Francis Xavier University, the Antigonish Golf and Country Club, and Dr. Hugh Gillis High School Softball Fields, concluding with closing ceremonies August 4th. In total, approximately 1,030 athletes, with 415 coaches and staff, were expected to compete in Athletics, Swimming, Golf, Bocce, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Soccer, Softball, and Basketball.

Having visited Newfoundland about five years ago, the Maritimes were familiar to William Ypma, who was competing in the top tier for bocce at his first Nationals against athletes from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Colombia, and Ontario (Tillsonburg).

“It was pretty fun,” said Ypma on the diamond for last week’s Special Olympics vs Firefighters softball game.

“Out of 60 players from all of Canada, I placed fifth.”

Ypma was locked in a three-way tie for third in the Gold Division with a 2-2 record, but the Ontario gold medalist missed the podium in Antigonish based on plus-minus points.

Overall, he was very happy with how he played, including a win against the gold-medal winning athlete from Manitoba.


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“A few (games) were close,” he nodded, recalling a pivotal small cluster in the match against B.C. as the closest.

Also knotted in that same three-way tie with a 2-2 record was Tillsonburg’s Corey Mulholland, who won the Gold Division bronze medal based on points.

Mulholland’s closest match might have been against the same B.C. athlete,

“Yeah, it was close. I played him the day after he beat me… and I beat him.”

But the match that might have been ‘the’ decider was the Mulholland vs Ypma game, which Mulholland won 14-10.

“It was a good match,” Mulholland nodded. “Same as the match from Provincials.”

They knew each others strengths, and knew each others weak spots.

“We played just like during a practice, going all-out,” said Mulholland.

It was much harder, said Mulholland, playing against an unknown player, and not knowing their strengths and weaknesses. The Manitoba rep ended up winning gold, and Saskatchewan silver.

“It was a nail breaker,” Bocce Coach Carolyn Mulholland smiled.

The top athletes at nationals qualified to compete at the Special Olympics World Championships. There were seven bocce divisions for men at Antigonish, and five for women.

Zach Phipps, a bocce player at Provincials, competed in the Canadian Fivepin Bowling Championships, and was satisfied with his results at his first Nationals.

“Good,” he nodded. “Most of my games were above average (about 124).”

Scores were kept as a team, he said, not individually, and his team was split between three or four divisions.


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“It was a little bit of a bigger event,” he said, comparing it to Provincials where he had qualified for Nationals a couple of years ago.

Phipps, and all of the Tillsonburg athletes, thanked their supporters and sponsors.

Rick Buck, a national bronze medalist in golf at Antigonish, has two events on his radar – a North American championship tournament in Nashville, and Worlds in Dubai.

“We’re just waiting to hear about Worlds,” said Buck. “Should know in the next week or two. Worlds are next March… it’s big.”

Competing in the top level at Antigonish, out of five divisions, Buck played against two golfers he went head-to-head with at North Americans and Provincials last year, and a new competitor from Alberta.

“I was just off my game a little bit,” said Buck, who finished behind the gold medalist from BC and silver from Hamilton after three rounds.

“The guy from BC really scrambled. I just wasn’t on my game, but I did well. I enjoyed the course. In practice I just about aced a hole – I shot three over (par) in practice. I was happy how I hit the ball,” he said, thanking his coach Tom Farlow from The Golf School at Woodstock Meadows, who Buck has been working with since Christmas.

“It was a very good competition, it was fun.”

The difference, he said, were penalties.

“That’s golf right, the pros do it too. The course didn’t play hard, but we played to quite a high elevation. You could see the whole town of Antigonish, right out into the valley. And you don’t even know you’re climbing the hill.”


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Heat was also a factor, he noted, for all the athletes.

“It was hot. We had to play in the warmest summer they’ve ever had… and then we brought it back when we flew back. And the places we stayed in, they didn’t have air conditioning. It was about 110F in the dorms the whole time we stayed there, but it was a nice university, a really nice place. They did a great job with everything.”

Buck also thanked his sponsors – Tillsonburg Legion, Norwich Legion, Tillsonburg Knights of Columbus, Pioneer gas station in Tillsonburg, Ron Becht for training at the Community Centre gym, and Mufflerman from Woodstock.

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