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Calgary-area Special Olympians defend national championship: ‘It’s just going to be crazy!’

WATCH: This is the biggest week of the year for some hard-working young athletes in the Calgary area. As Gil Tucker shows us, they're heading across the country to defend a national championship.

Members of the Unified Sports bocce team at Bert Church High School in Airdrie, Alta., are travelling across the country to defend a national title this week and practising for it is bringing them a lot of enjoyment.

“I think it’s really fun,” Grade 11 student Jayden Riley said. “Just keep working hard at what you can do.”

Unified Sports are part of the Special Olympics program, with all students welcome to participate.

“It’s played with people with and without intellectual disabilities,” Grade 10 student Emma Rockwell said.

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

The Bert Church bocce team came out on top at the 2018 Special Olympics national competition in Peterborough, Ont.

“It was really exciting!” Rockwell said.

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The team is once again gearing up to head east to compete at the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games in Toronto.

“It’s the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, so there are teams from all across the world,” Grade 10 student Colter Cannon said. “It’s just going to be crazy — it’s a great atmosphere!”

More than 2,000 athletes will take part in the international competition in Toronto, which runs from May 14 to 17.

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

Along with bocce, they’ll be competing in track and field events, basketball and floor hockey.

“I teach the students with intellectual disabilities,” Bert Church teacher Cynthia Dahl said. “And Unified Sports is a highlight of the year. They love Unified Sports.”

“It’s fun,” Grade 12 student Ami Schaan said. “And you can make new friends.”

Last year’s victory has team members eager to repeat as bocce champions.

“We’ll work so hard,” Riley said. “And we’ll bring the medals home to show everybody in our school.”