Okanagan Special Olympian awarded ‘Athlete of the Year’

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Special Olympian awarded Athlete of the Year
A local athlete has won a big award. Sydney Morton met Special Olympian Francis Stanley at Sovereign Lake who has been awarded Special Olympics' Athlete of the Year. – Nov 20, 2022

Special Olympian Francis Stanley is back on the mountain after a quick trip to Toronto for the Special Olympics Canada National Awards where he won Athlete of the Year.

The award ceremony “annually recognizes the outstanding athletes, coaches, and volunteers from across the country who exemplify the spirit and essence of our movement,” states a press release.

“He has trained incredibly hard and it’s through his sheer hard work that he has had the honour of receiving this award,” said Annabel Stanley, his mother and one of his coaches.

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Francis says he feels “pretty honoured” to have received the award.

He has been part of the Special Olympics for 13 years and has won multiple gold medals in cross-country skiing at both national and international games. He earned a spot on the Special Olympics Team Canada 2022 and now the 25-year-old can add this award to his long list of accomplishments.

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“It is certainly thanks to the Special Olympics for giving him the opportunity to be an incredible athlete and then it was also amazing for Telemark Nordic, they invited him to be on the race team,” said Annabel.

“That took him to the next level because he is way faster than me now.”

Annabel was also awarded for her dedication to the Special Olympians she trains with the Howard Carter Award that Special Olympics BC states is given to “a coach who provides exceptional training to the athletes and ensures that they are prepared to beat their personal bests and deliver high-calibre performances at competitions,” on their website. 

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“We started in 2009 and I started as a volunteer,” said Annabel. “Thanks to Special Olympics B.C., they gave me training and accreditation to become a better coach.”

Now, it’s back to training.

“We have provincial games coming up in Kamloops in February and then we will go to the national games in 2024 and world games in 2025 and we are on track,” said Annabel.

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