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SPECIAL OLYMPICS TEAM CANADA TO ATTEND WORLD WINTER GAMES IN AUSTRIA

~ PRE-GAMES INTERVIEWS with Athletes Evan James (Speed Skating) and Valerie Delorme (Snowshoeing) & Honorary Coach, figure skater Jamie Sale

/EIN News/ -- TORONTO, Feb. 8, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The countdown to competition has begun, as 108 Canadian Special Olympics athletes, plus 35 mission staff and coaches, prepare and train for their trip to the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria in March 2017. Special Olympics Team Canada, the third largest team at the Games, will compete in six different sports, including: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating.

"Our Team Canada athletes, coaches and mission staff are well prepared for this year's World Winter Games," said Marian Coulson, Chef de Mission for Special Olympics Team Canada. "The passion and skill level of our team is unmatched; we expect great results at these games and, as always, a lasting impact on communities across the country."

One of the world's largest sporting and humanitarian events to be held in 2017, the World Games in Austria is a nine-day competition bringing together 3,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities (ID) and 1,100 coaches from as many as 110 countries.

SUPPORT CANADA'S ATHLETES

"I am very proud to be involved in Special Olympics Canada as Honorary Coach" says Olympic & World Champion figure skater Jamie Salé who will accompany the athletes to Austria. "It is incredible to witness the role of sport in empowering individuals and transforming lives. We encourage all Canadians to rally behind our Special Olympics athletes for these games and to support local programs throughout the year."

Salé also co-chairs the Special Olympics Champions Network along with fellow Olympic Gold-medalists Mark Tewksbury and Catriona Le May Doan, helping to raise awareness for Special Olympics programs across the country. The athlete coaches are committed to Special Olympics and its ability to change lives, attitudes and create a more inclusive society.

NATIONAL GRASSROOTS IMPACT

The World Games are only one aspect of the Special Olympics movement, along with grassroots programming delivered in communities across Canada to over 42,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities. These programs are supported by more than 20,000 volunteers including more than 15,000 trained coaches.

"We are very proud of our Team Canada athletes, staff and coaches," says Sharon Bollenbach, CEO, Special Olympics Canada. "Our programs reach far beyond just competitions and world class athletes, taking us into communities across the country, enriching the daily lives of over 42,000 Canadians with an intellectual disability (ID), through the transformative power of sport."

S.O. TEAM CANADA FUN FACTS
-          Canada has the third largest team competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
-          Both floor hockey teams representing Team Canada include father and son team members.

ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS CANADA

Established in 1969, the Canadian chapter of this international movement is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport. Operating out of sport clubs in 12 Provincial and Territorial Chapters, this grassroots movement reaches beyond the sphere of sport to empower individuals, change attitudes and build communities. From two-year-olds to mature adults, more than 42,000 athletes with an intellectual disability are registered in Special Olympics year-round programs across Canada. They are supported by more than 20,000 volunteers, including more than 15,000 trained coaches.

For more information, visit TeamCanada.SpecialOlympics.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@SpecialOCanada) or through our official Games hashtag #SOTeamCanada17 or #ÉquipeOSCanada17.

MEDIA INTERVIEW AVAILABILITY/PHOTO OP ADVISORY:

January 25 - March 10:
-          Athletes from all provinces and territories are available for in-person, telephone or online interviews.

Monday, March 13 in Toronto:
6        a.m. – 1 p.m. - In studio interviews with honourary coach Jamie Salé and Team Canada Athletes:  Evan James (Speed Skating) and Valerie Delorme (Snowshoeing)

8 – 9 a.m.  - Group photo op: Special Olympic athletes will warm up for their transatlantic flight with a group stretch class at their hotel before they leave for the airport (8:00AM – 9:00AM).

CONTACT: PRIOR TO MARCH 11: 
         
         Christine Mulkins					
         BOOST PR							
         647-242-3686						
         Christine@boostpr.ca	
         
         Jenny Mulkins
         BOOST PR
         416-801-1014
         jenny@boostpr.ca		
         
         FROM MARCH 11 - 25, 2017: 
         Lisa Dunbar 
         Cell | Cel +1 647-213-2910 
         ldunbar@specialolympics.ca