The two P.E.I. athletes relied on the same simple, but demanding, formula to earn a spot to compete for Team Canada at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.
“Hard work,’’ Alyssa Chapman and Ellen MacNearney declared in unison during an interview on speaker phone Tuesday.
The pair will be the pride of Prince Edward Island when they represent Team Canada in a major sporting event that is drawing 3,300 athletes from 113 countries to compete from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5.
A nine-year veteran of Special Olympics, Chapman, 22, of Murray Harbour will be competing outside Canada for the first time.
Her goal is to meet new friends and perform to her best as a figure skater.
“It’s pretty exciting,’’ she said. “I’m a little nervous.’’
Chapman, who started skating when she was just three, began competing in Special Olympics by age 13. She has won three gold medals in competitions.
Competing at the world level in Pyeong Chang, notes mom Michelle, is a whole new playing field for the Island athlete.
“I think this is kind of her dream come true. She was very excited to find out she was going,’’ said Michelle, who will make the trip to South Korea with her daughter Emily to cheer Chapman on.
MacNearney, 18, of Montague is also thrilled to be a member of Team Canada at the Games.
“I feel great about it,’’ she said. “I want to win a medal but I am also trying to do my best . . . .and get some good friends.’’
Kathleen and Dave MacNearney will be on the snowy sidelines as their daughter slides past on her cross-country skis.
“So we will be cheering her on, making her go faster,’’ said Kathleen.
“Well it’s a little nerve wracking but it’s exciting,’’ she added.
“She’s in really good hands. We’re all excited.’’
Chapman and MacNearney will be joined by mission staff member Charity Sheehan and Team Canada mental trainer Tara Costell-Ledwell.
Sheehan calls the event a trip of a lifetime.
“This is the first world games for both of our Island athletes, so they are a bit nervous but still really fueled with excitement,’’ she said.
“To walk in representing Canada, wearing the red uniforms, I think they are thrilled by that and they can’t wait to experience it all.’’
There will be approximately 3,300 athletes and 1,000 coaches and volunteers from 113 countries. Team Canada will be comprised of 102 athletes as well as 39 coaches and mission staff.
Team Canada will compete in figure skating, snowshoe, nordic ski, Alpine ski, floor hockey and speed skating.
Valerie Downe, executive director of Special Olympics PEI encourages Islanders to follow the progress of Chapman and MacNearney online at www.teamcanada2013.ca and through Special Olympic P.E.I.’s Facebook page and twitter@specialOPEI.