New Brunswick

Hundreds of athletes in Moncton for Special Olympics

Athletes from across the province and P.E.I. are in Moncton taking part in the New Brunswick Special Olympics.

Though N.B. games are qualifier for national games, participants say this is a fun, friendly competition

The first N.B. Special Olympics in 11 years wraps up Saturday night. 0:51
Athletes from across the province and P.E.I. are in Moncton taking part in the New Brunswick Special Olympics. 

More than 420 athletes are competing in sports that include swimming, shot put, soccer, powerlifting, vocce ball, softball, bowling, track and field and golf with the help of their coaches.

But having family there to cheer them on is important as well, says Sonia Breau, whose daughter Megan is taking part in the games, with brother Ryan as her coach.

Ryan Breau helps coach his sister Megan's swim team. She won first place in her competition at the provincial Special Olympics. (CBC)

"We're definitely pumped," Breau said. "We have a swimmer and we have our son, who is coaching with her, so it's quite a team. 

"It's exciting to see them compete and have fun and see the results of all the year of swimming together with the whole team."

For Ryan, 14, being able to help is important. 

P.E.I. athletes Christopher Arsenault and Jeremy Wall ran the 3000 metres, a total of seven laps, in the sun. Both say it's a friendly competition. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

"It helps build their confidence when they know they have good support, and people know that they can do well." 

More than 100 volunteers are on hand to ensure the event runs smoothly in its return to Moncton for the first time in 11 years. 

Lorraine LeClair, chair of the games, said the athletes have a chance to qualify for the summer national games being held in Halifax in 2018. 

Nikki Mallet, 17, of Tracadie, says he doesn't train very hard. He's here to have fun. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

But Nikki Mallet, 17, said that wasn't his focus.

"I got to be honest, I've not put in a lot of training."

He said he wasn't there to get stronger but to have fun. 

"It's a competition yes, but we're here to have fun, for everyone to have a big party."

Megan Breau, 12, and Nolan Dobbin, 15, get ready for the next heat. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

So far, his favourite part of the event was taking part in the parade. 

"In the parade, when we were walking down the street, you know, we're us. We got no problems. But obstacles, yeah, but so what? We're still people, you know."

With files from Tori Weldon