SPECIAL TO THE WESTERN STAR
CORNER BROOK, N.L. — Jackie Barrett never thought he would make history.
But he will be doing just that Nov. 15 when he becomes the first-ever Special Olympics athlete to be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
Originally from Halifax, Barrett moved to Gillams in western Newfoundland in 2008 with his family. He had joined Special Olympics as a swimmer in 1987 while in high school and began lifting weights to help his swimming.
He really enjoyed lifting and his coach noticed how strong he was.
“My coach said, ‘Jackie, you’re so strong. Why don’t you take up power lifting?”
He switched sports in 1995, and the rest is history.
“I gave up swimming to focus on powerlifting," said Barrett, who moved to Corner Brook about a year ago. "That definitely paid off."
He has always enjoyed the competition of power lifting.
“It’s a test of my strength," he said. "It’s a chance to prove I’m one of the strongest athletes."
Retired from weightlifting since 2015, he now volunteers with Special Olympics in Corner Brook and currently helps coach two younger powerlifters for the club.
“I was an athlete with Special Olympics for 28 years and now I’m a peer mentor and coach with the Corner Brook Special Olympics Club,” said Barrett.
Barrett found out he had been chosen for the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year when he received a phone call from Bruce Rainnie, president and chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
“It was hard to believe at first,” he said.
“I was really excited. The Nova Scotia Hall of Fame is one of the most prestigious and one of the most difficult to get into in the country. It’s not just a big honour for me, it’s also a big honour for all of the Special Olympics athletes all over Canada.”
Getting into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame is indeed not an easy task. A list of 100 nominees is pared down to only five by a panel of 36 experts, including current and former athletes, broadcasters and others.
According to Special Olympics Canada, the final five must meet nine benchmarks: Dominance in their sport, achievement (measured by awards and medals), consistency, longevity, skill range, “wow factor,” depth and quality of competition, performance under pressure and legacy.
Barrett received 10/10 in nearly all benchmarks, Rainnie said in a press release announcing the induction.
Barrett is especially honoured to be included with the other inductees. Athletes Justine Colley (basketball) and Suzanne Muir (soccer) are graduates of St. Mary’s University, where Barrett — who works in the technology field — studied commerce.
“It’s an honour to be inducted with Justine and Suzanne, and also Jody Shelley for hockey and Morgan Williams in rugby. These are high-calibre athletes. I’m really excited to get that honour,” said Barrett.
Barrett has also been named Special Olympics’ Male Athlete of the Year in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and across Canada. In 2015, he received the Special Olympics Canada’s Dr. Frank Hayden Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2015, on the heels of his record-breaking performance at the 2015 World Special Olympic Games in Los Angeles, he was nominated for the prestigious Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete. He lost to Carey Price, the Montreal Canadiens' all-star goaltender.
“My induction into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame is not only a big honour for me, but also exciting for the 47,500 heroes across Canada, the Special Olympians themselves,” said Barrett.
The Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame Induction Night takes place Nov. 15 at the Halifax Convention Centre.
The Newfoundland Moose
Jackie Barrett became known as the “Newfoundland Moose” for his heavy weight lifts and has been a dominant figure in Canadian Special Olympics powerlifting competitions throughout his career, bringing home 20 gold medals. He has represented Canada as well at the World Special Olympics competition, with 13 first-place finishes to his credit.
At the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, he broke the Special Olympics record with a 656-pound deadlift, and his 611-pound squat broke the Newfoundland men’s master-1 super-heavyweight record.
Source: Special Olympics Canada