Barrie area Special Olympics suspended after Russian attack on Ukraine

‘I know there is a sense of disappointment throughout the team,’ says cross-country skier and inducted Barrie Sports Hall of Fame

Barrie’s cross-country skier Philip Lock is disappointed he won’t be competing at the Special World Winter Games in Kazan, Russia next January, although he is hesitant to leave, given the country’s continued hostility against Ukraine.

Special Olympics Canada announced last week that it was pulling the Canadian team from the event. That was followed at the weekend by the all-out cancellation of the event.

“I know there’s a sense of disappointment throughout the team,” said Lock, who is also a member of the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame. “I’m quite worried about all this.”

Lock will compete in cross-country skiing and this will be his second time appearing at the world championships, having won two silver medals at the 2013 event in PyeongChang, South Korea.

This is the third time the Special Olympics World Winter Games, which are usually held every two years, have been held.

The international multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities was originally due to be held in stersund, Sweden in 2021, but financial problems prompted him to move to the city in southwestern Russia.

The event was postponed to January 2022, but concerns over the pandemic led to another year’s delay.

Other team members include Jade Irvine who competes in snowshoeing, snowshoeing coach Dave Rowe, and Nordic team coach Ann Scully.

Scully said he was happy with the decision, although it is not yet known whether he will move to another host country.

The past two years have been filled with interruptions, he added. Extra precautions were taken during the pandemic to protect the athletes, many of whom are immunocompromised.

Tim is the oldest, Scully said, given the series of delays. The athletes initially qualified for the national games at Thunder Bay in 2020.

“We can only train hard until August,” said the retired teacher. “I’m disappointed for all the athletes.”

For Lock, who is involved in many local activities, including theatrical and musical performances, the decision will result in changes to his training schedule.

“I kind of hope the training isn’t too serious,” said the 39-year-old Barrie, who added that he intended to continue competing once it was deemed safe.

Jackson Wintringham

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