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Special Olympics national competition starts Wednesday

Paul Phillips and Jenna Smith are excited to be participating in the Special Olympics Canada bowling championships this week in Prince Edward Island.
Paul Phillips and Jenna Smith are excited to be participating in the Special Olympics Canada bowling championships this week in Prince Edward Island. — Jason Malloy

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Paul Phillips has taken part in six Special Olympics national games but never one in his home province.

That changes Wednesday when the 43-year-old Summerside native competes in the tenpin bowling team competition in his hometown.

“I’m very happy,” he said after Tuesday’s opening ceremony at UPEI.

Phillips is looking to equal his career high of 162 but is ultimately just happy to compete and meet new people.

“I enjoy all the friendships between everybody: the athletes, coaches and volunteers,” he said.

Ellerslie’s Jenna Smith said she had an opportunity to catch up with an athlete and a coach she competed with in Los Angeles at the world games three years ago.

“I was so glad to see them,” she said.

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Smith hasn’t set any specific goals for this week’s event.

“Just to have fun and compete and not worry about what medal or what (placing) I get,” she said.

The athletes have been preparing for the past 30 weeks, she said, and now the stress is gone and it’s more relaxing.

She said it was emotional to be part of the opening ceremonies for the first Games in Prince Edward Island.

“It’s really overwhelming – in a good way,” she said. “It’s very exciting, and I’m glad everybody is here.”

RELATED: Click here for more photos from the opening ceremonies

Chief-Supt. Jennifer Ebert, the RCMP’s commanding officer in Prince Edward Island, and Michael Morris, a Stratford resident and the first Special Olympian to be inducted into the Maritime Sport Hall of Fame, lit the cauldron at the opening ceremonies.

“It was a great feeling seeing the torch lit by one of our athletes,” Phillips said. “I feel happy for him.”

Athletes had a chance to practise at the lanes on Tuesday afternoon and today the competition begins.

Coach Rickey Burns has been to about eight national championships during the past dozen years. He enjoys the camaraderie, sportsmanship and enjoyment that is on display during the event.

“I enjoy the happiness of the athletes and how they join hands with other athletes. Great friendships come out of it,” he said.

Burns said they practise two hours each Monday and 90 minutes every Tuesday from the end of October to be ready for the national championship. He has seen athletes come in with no experience and gradually improve.

“It’s unreal,” he said.

But it’s more than a score that Burns enjoys.

“As long as they’re happy, it makes me happy,” he said.


Team P.E.I.

The athletes and coaches who make up Team P.E.I. for the Special Olympics Canada bowling championships

Tenpin

Wayne Dyment                        Summerside

Kevin Ramsay                          Tyne Valley

Jenna Smith                             Ellerslie

Paul Phillips                              Summerside

Head coach Ann Kilby               Tyne Valley

Fivepin

Jonathan Watts                          York

Patti Bradley                               Charlottetown

Degan Hackett                            West Devon

Donna Pyke                                 Charlottetown

Kaitlyn MacKinnon                       Charlottetown

Head coach Rickey Burns            Charlottetown

Team P.E.I.

Chef de mission Genna Phelan    Charlottetown

Manager Lynda Hontscharowicz    Charlottetown


Schedules

P.E.I. schedules at Special Olympics Canada bowling championships today through Saturday in Tyne Valley, Summerside and Charlottetown.

Tenpin

Wednesday

1:15 – Team competition (Summerside).

Thursday

1:15 p.m. – Doubles – Jenna Smith/Paul Phillips (Summerside).

1:15 p.m. – Doubles – Kevin Ramsay/Wayne Dyment (Summerside).

Friday

8:45 a.m. – Individual – Jenna Smith (Tyne Valley).

1:15 p.m. – Individual – Wayne Dyment (Summerside).

2:45 p.m. – Individual – Kevin Ramsay (Tyne Valley).

2:45 p.m. – Individual – Paul Phillips (Tyne Valley).

Saturday

9 a.m. – Medal ceremonies (Summerside).


Fivepin

At Murphy’s Community Centre

(Charlottetown):

Wednesday

8 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. Manitoba One.

9 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. Alberta Two.

10 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. British Columbia Three.

Thursday

12:45 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Ontario Five.

1:45 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Northwest Territories.

Friday

10:15 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Ontario 11.

11:15 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. Ontario One.

Saturday

8 a.m. – Semifinals.

9 a.m. – Finals.

1:30 p.m. – Medal ceremonies at UPEI.

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