NEW GLASGOW — It is less than a month before Evan Sharpe joins his fellow athletes at the 2018 Canadian Special Olympics Summer Games.
The Games are being held July 31 to August 4 in Antigonish.
Sharpe is among members of the swimming team and has been training on his own with coach Aaron Smith when he is not doing so with the rest of the team.
“He’s one of the most positive teammembers in the pool,” Smith said. “It’s great to be around him — his great smile in the pool, he never gives up. He’s hard-working and full of ambition.”
Sharpe said he’s ready to test his skills in the 100-metre and 200-metre freestyle and 100-metre individual medley events in which he’s competing. IM consists of backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle disciplines.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I like them all but I do feel strong in the butterfly.”
Sharpe has been swimming for 10 years. He said he likes the idea that the Games are in Antigonish. It’s the first time since 1994 that Nova Scotia has hosted the Canadian Special Olympics Summer Games.
“It’s really special to be close to home,” he said. “My mom and dad and all my family will be there.”
Special Olympics Pictou County official Cathy Mason says she looks forward to Sharpe’s entry into the national Summer Games.
“This will be Evan’s first National Games,” she said. “He has been training hard over the past year and I am excited to see his performances. Evan is an all-around great athlete who is always looking for ways to keep active and he is always looking to improve his times in the pool.”
She noted Sharpe was a member of the curling team in Pictou County that won team of the year last year.
“This year Evan won the award for male athlete of the year for Special Olympics Nova Scotia, all of which speaks to his excellence in sport and sportsmanship,” Mason said.
Antigonish has hosted many Special Olympics Nova Scotia Summer Games, while St. Francis Xavier University was selected for the athlete’s village and several sports.
The 2018 Summer Games will feature nine sports: athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball and swimming.
Officials expect more than 3,000 spectators will attend the Games, as well as more than 900 athletes, 290 coaches, officials and mission staff, and 600 volunteers.
Among other Pictou County athletes competing in Antigonish are two in track and field and one in rhythmic gymnastics.
Evan Sharpe of Riverton practices with Special Olympics Nova Scotia swim team at the Pictou County YMCA pool on Saturday morning, in advance of the upcoming National Summer Games in Antigonish this August. (Jess photo)