Calgary athletes train for Special Olympics: ‘Challenging in a really cool way’

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WATCH: This is a big week for hundreds of hard-working Alberta athletes. They getting ready for one of the their biggest competitions of the year, tackling tough challenges head-on. Gil Tucker has the story.

Gliding across the ice as she practises her figure skating program, JorDen Tyson has a lot to be proud of.

“I am the world champion!” Tyson said.

The Calgary skater brought home a gold medal from the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria — her success a triumph over obstacles.

“My disability is autism,” Tyson said.

She was sharing the ice with another Calgary figure skater who also faces challenges.

“I have a learning disability,” Tamara Lambert said. “It doesn’t stop me from any activities.”

READ MORE: Special Olympic curlers use Regina bonspiel as tune-up for provincials

Both young women are now training to join 700 other athletes from around Alberta at the 2019 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games, competing in eight sports from Friday, Feb. 8 to Sunday, Feb. 10 at several venues throughout Calgary.

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“I like meeting all the different athletes,” Lambert said. “How nice they are and supportive.”

“It’s so exciting!” Tamara’s mother, Mary Lambert said. “She just feels so much more confident about herself and she feels part of something, which is really important for these kids.”

“They have friends, they have boyfriends.” JorDen’s mother, Trish Tyson said. “And they have coaches that push them.”

READ MORE: Cochrane school honoured with Special Olympics award: ‘Everyone helps each other’

Skating coach CJ Fernet said he enjoys working with Special Olympians like Tyson and Lambert.

“Every coach should have the privilege of coaching a child with special needs,” Fernet said. “It’s challenging in a really cool, all their hard work and determination.”

“Training harder and harder,” Tyson said. “Keep going, because it’s OK to fall.”

“It is OK to fall,” Lambert said. “Like, I fell in my program, but I got back up and continued skating, which is what we’re meant to do.”

More information on the Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games is available here.