Special to the Mirror
On March 1, local Special Olympics athlete Hazen Meade and coaches Maureen Hunter, Cheryl Clay and George Maclagan attended the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics National Winter Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador as part of Team B.C.
Anyone who had the opportunity to follow this adventure through social media, saw that it was a Games that was full of local flavour. The community came out in full force to host these Games and what a great competition they put on. Despite what Mother Nature threw at us, the people of Corner Brook did a great job.
Just to give you an idea of the weather challenges, when we got off the plane it was -7; our first day of competition on Wednesday was similar: -12 with a wind chill of -17, and, on Thursday, the outdoor competition was cancelled due to rain and high winds. Friday turned out to be sunny and -15 with a wind chill of -20. But Mother Nature was not Hazen’s biggest challenge.
As many people in our community are aware, Hazen is a very dedicated athlete who trains very hard and has earned every medal that he owns. Many of us see Hazen doing his weekly runs at the Sportsplex or the pool. Recently, he has been running with the Carihi Tuesday and Thursday morning sports program.
Of the three events that Hazen participated in, he was placed in the top division of each event. This meant that he was snowshoeing against the fastest in Canada. When I reviewed his preliminary events with Hazen and the times of his competitors, he was very intimidated. His personal best time for the 1600 was 6:39 and he was going up against competitors with entered times of 5:51. Hazen is very well aware that taking 50 seconds off your time in a race is next to impossible. Hazen’s spirits where down and he was feeling pretty defeated.
After his 1600 preliminary, he came in sixth in the event and he was really down. He kept apologizing for not placing and he felt that he had let everyone down. But when we got the results and he found out that he had set a personal best time of 6:30 seconds, he was pretty excited.
In the 1600 meter final, he finished with a personal best time of 6:20.00. Even though he went into each race knowing that it would take a miracle for him to place in the top three, he still found the strength, deep within himself, to finish with his personal best time in every event.
I won’t say it didn’t take a lot of positive talk from the coaching staff and support from his teammates to help Hazen get his mental thinking back to “All you can do is go as fast as you possible can. If you run faster than you ever have then it is the luck of the draw who you race against.”
Hazen’s ability to dig down and truly give his all, no matter who he was up against, speaks volumes to the athlete that Hazen is. So over the next few weeks, when you see Hazen, even though there are no medals hanging around his neck, please take the time to shake his hand and acknowledge that this man just ran the race of his life six times and did our community very proud.