2013 Special Olympics coming to Langley

The Games will take place from July 11 to 14, 2013, and an organizing committee will be put together soon.

Langley Special Olympian Matthew Williams took part in the Olympic torch run with then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Langley Special Olympian Matthew Williams took part in the Olympic torch run with then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

The 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games will be held in Langley.

The announcement was made on Monday to Langley Township council and on Tuesday to Langley Board of Education. It is hoped the City of Langley will become involved as well.

Lois McNary, vice-president sport for Special Olympics B.C., said that 1,100 athletes will take part in 11 sporting events. The Games will be held from July 11 to 14, 2013.

The athletes will compete in 11 summer sports: five- and 10-pin bowling, aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, power lifting, soccer and softball.

McNary said the Langley Games will be the largest ones ever held in B.C., and will serve as a preview of the national Special Olympic Games, which will be held in Vancouver.

Elected officials were shown a video of an earlier Summer Games in Comox, and the enthusiasm and athleticism shown was obvious.

McNary commented that athletes could be competing for Oscars as well as medals in the Games, given their obvious love of taking part.  These Games will mark the first time that Special Olympics BC and Yukon athletes participating in basketball, bocce and golf will be able to compete for the chance to advance to the national games.

These three current demonstration sports will be part of the Special Olympics Canada Games for the first time in 2014.

“Special Olympics BC is excited to be hosting our 2013 provincial Summer Games in Langley Township.

“We’re grateful for the support and co-operation of the Township and the Langley School District that will help make these Games an amazing experience for the athletes who will come together from all around the province and the Yukon to give their best efforts and go for gold,” said McNary,

McNary said afterwards that she hoped the City could become involved if some of the venues are in the City.

Langley Special Olympian Matthew Williams, 19, spoke to Township council on Monday.  He has been competing in Special Olympics since he was in Grade 8 and has served as a global messenger for the organization.

As such, he has met many well-known individuals, such as Warren Buffett and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and represented the movement around the world.

“I am happy and honoured that Langley will host these Games in 2013,” he said.

“It is truly one of the greatest experiences when you have hundreds of people cheering for you.”

In response to a question from Councillor Steve Ferguson, McNary said that an organizing committee will begin to form in the next few weeks, and the call for volunteers should begin in June.

Mayor Jack Froese, who was on the executive that hosted the B.C. Summer Games in Langley in 2010, said there will be no problem finding people to get involved with the Games.

“The Township will roll out the red carpet,” he said.  “These Games will be the best.”

“The athletes are such incredible role models for our young people and we look forward to joining our students in cheering them on as they inspire us with their dedication and commitment to achieving their goals,” said Langley Board of Education chair Wendy Johnson.