GILLAMS — Gillams powerlifter Jackie Barrett is one of two Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympians who will wear Canada’s colours at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
Barrett, a 36-year-old Halifax native, will be joined by fellow Newfoundlander Michael Harris of Gander on Team Canada for the prestigious Special Olympics competition.
Other Newfoundlanders making the trek with Team Canada include Dr. Carmel Casey of Gander, who is the team’s chief medical officer, Jeff Butt of Mount Pearl, who is the powerlifting coach and former SONL Executive Director Johnny Byrne, who is part of the Mission Staff.
Qualification for the 2011 national team was based on performance at the 2010 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games, which were held earlier this year in London, Ont.
They will join 109 athletes and 42 coaches and mission staff who will proudly walk into Athens’ Kallimarmaro Pananthinaikon Stadium to represent Canada at this world event.
“It’s very exciting to be representing Team Canada not just for the first time, not the second time, but actually the third time,” Barrett said of his reaction to being named to the team. “I’m definitely feeling very excited and feeling very honoured to be given another shot at representing my country again.”
Barrett, who has been active in Special Olympics for over 23 years, has been a world-class powerlifter of great accomplishment. He won three gold medals at the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Raleigh, N.C., and another four gold medals at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.
He set a world record at the 2010 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games with a squat of 265.5 kg. He was the 2000 Special Olympics Canada Male Athlete of the Year and also Vancouver 2010 torchbearer during the Corner Brook leg of the torch relay.
Barrett has set lofty goals for Athens.
“I am hoping for a medal once in every event at the World Games. It doesn’t really matter if it’s gold, silver or bronze,” he said.
The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games is an international competition slated for June 25 to July 4 in Athens and is expected to bring together an estimated 7,000 athletes from as many as 185 countries who will compete in 22 sports.
Canadians will compete in seven of the 22 sports, including 10-pin bowling, athletics, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball and swimming.