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Local duo shine at nationals

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They ran, jumped, and threw their way to put the local Special Olympics program on the map.

But whether that map is of the global variety remains to be seen.

Local track and field athletes Dave Ducasse and Ray Bedard delivered shining results at the Special Olympics national Summer Games in Prince Albert, Sask. last week.

Bedard snagged double gold—winning the 200m race and running broad jump (with a personal best four-metre leap)—to go along with silver medals in both the 50m dash and shot put.

Ducasse finished second in the 200m, 1,500m, shot put, and 4x400m relay events, but failed to place in the running broad jump and 400m.

Region 8 co-ordinator Gaby Hanzuk said whether both Bedard and Ducasse qualified for Team Canada for the world Summer Games in Ireland next year won’t be known for at least six months.

“Their way of selecting the team is based on the number of points they score,” she explained. “We won’t know for a while, but they’re still all very exciting with how they did.

“And we’re so happy how they’ve done,” Hanzuk added. “I think their success has encouraged other athletes to come out to the program. We’ve gone from six to 13 in just one year.”

The national games were the first Bedard, 44, and the second for Ducasse, 51, who last competed there in 1986. They had qualified for Team Ontario—made up of 275 athletes—at last year’s provincial showdown.

The games began with opening ceremonies last Monday and the preliminary heats starting Wednesday. They wrapped up Sat-urday.

“The whole experience was something they said they’ll always remember,” said Hanzuk.

Ducasse and Bedard were joined in Prince Albert by fellow Region 8 athletes Amy Lee (track and field), Keith Henderson (swimming), and Paul Wragg (powerlifting)—all of Atikokan.

They came home with a combined nine medals.

Local Special Olympians next will head to Atikokan for a Region 8 wind-up/softball tournament this weekend.

“From there, we’ll be getting ready for the Winter Games,” enthused Hanzuk.

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