Sports

Blazin’ Hazen heading for Special Olympics World Winter Games

Maureen Brinson (left) and Hazen Meade received signed cards of encouragement from supporters and athletes at a send-off party Saturday. - Alistair Taylor/The Mirror
Maureen Brinson (left) and Hazen Meade received signed cards of encouragement from supporters and athletes at a send-off party Saturday.
— image credit: Alistair Taylor/The Mirror

Hazen Meade may be peaking at the right time as he sets off for Seoul, South Korea tomorrow.

Meade will be competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in three snowshoeing events.

“I am hoping all these months of training has paid off,” Mead said. “I have started improving my times a little bit, so I am hoping.”

Meade qualified for the world games being held in Seoul Jan. 29 - Feb. 5 by finishing in the gold medal spot in the 1,600 metre race in the 2012 Special Olympics Winter Games in St. Albert, Alberta. Mead will compete for Team Canada in the 1,600 metres, 800 metres and the 4 x 400 relay in Seoul.

Meade is proud to represent his country and a little bit nervous about travelling to Asia.

“I have never been outside North America,” Meade said.

He will be accompanied to Seoul by Campbell River Special Olympics coach Maureen Brinson and, of course, the rest of Team Canada who will link up with them in Vancouver tomorrow at a send-off dinner.

Attending the world games is a landmark for the 36-year-old Meade who has been competing in Special Olympics for 13 years. Besides snowshoeing, he competes in swimming, athletics, bowling and floor hockey.

But competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games has been a long-standing goal of his ever since friend and fellow Campbell River Special Olympian Paul Aubuchon competed in the 2003 world games in Dublin, Ireland.

“This was one of my dreams,” he said.

Meade’s goals are always straightforward.

He says he’s competitive but his competitiveness is focused on achieving his personal best every time. That’s how he measures success, not whether he wins or loses but by the personal standard he reaches.

On Saturday night, Campbell River Special Olympics held a send off party for Meade attended by athletes, coaches and families. It was a night that also saw the man responsible for getting snowshoeing into Special Olympics, Harvey Hunter, receive a Queen’s Jubilee medal for his contributions to Special Olympics (see below).

At the send off on Saturday, Brinson reminisced about first meeting Hazen as a little boy in her neighbourhood.

“I have watched Hazen grow up from the time he was five-years-old,” Brinson said.

He used to run up and down a hill on their street.

“Then one day, he showed up at the Association (for Community Living),” Brinson said.

Eventually, Brinson and Meade attended their first snowshoe competition.

His berth on Team Canada has been earned through his dedication, positive and persistent attitude and his commitment to his training and development.

Meade has been described has caring, polite, enthusiastic, dedicated, responsible, upbeat, positive and persistent.

As an athlete with autism, Meade has overcome challenges in staying focused but he has built up his ability to stay focused for lengthy periods.

He has also learned to channel his energy into his athletic abilities.

He has been a representative for Special Olympics in Campbell River who is a willing to share his Special Olympics stories in everything from speeches at events and meetings to media interviews.

He works four days a week as a prep cook for a local business, a job he has held for 13 years.

He also delivers the Campbell River Mirror to keep himself in shape and earn travel money.

View an interview with Hazen on youtube.com by Mike Holmgren.

You can also follow Meade and Team Canada’s progress in South Korea.

 

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