This summer nearly 300 athletes with intellectual disabilities will be making their way to Vancouver to compete in the 2014 Special Olympics British Columbia (SOBC) Summer Games.
And this year Elk Valley local, Kathy Sheppard, will be gearing up to bowl in the 5-pin bowling category.
Community Coordinator Georgina McIntosh said that this is the first time in 17 years an athlete from the Elk Valley’s Special Olympics BC Society will be competing in nationals.
“It’s really exciting to finally, after all these years, to have one,” she said.
Sheppard, 32, was picked from a small group of individuals, based on her bowling scores. After receiving a bronze medal in the provincial games, Sheppard was chosen to compete in nationals based on her gender and her teams scoring average.
She she said she is thrilled to have been given this opportunity.
“I am so excited, so pumped,” she said.
“I’m not going to be able to sleep the night before.”
And although Sheppard has in the past bowled a 203, the same score that earned Janet Laing the Highest Pins Over Average title in the 2013 SOBC Summer Games, McIntosh said this experience focuses more on learning than winning.
“She has learned so much for this, it’s been amazing,” she said.
“If she can bowl her average and above then at least she’s doing what she needs to do.”
But that doesn’t mean McIntosh doesn’t have high hopes for Sheppard.
“Hopefully she does well enough, then it will be worlds in Los Angeles,” she said.
And with all the training Sheppard has been doing over the last few months, winning is not out of the question.
The Special Olympics athletes are required to keep a diary and record what they’re eating, how they’re exercising and how they’re feeling each day, McIntosh said.
Sheppard began her training in October and has been riding her exercise bike everyday since she received notice of the opportunity, she said.
And bowling has been a part of her life since 2007, when she began competitively bowling in Sparwood.
“I just love it,” she said.
The games run from July 8 to July 12.