Coming back strong from a COVID-19 lull, local Special Olympian Jason Coleman has lost none of his competitive drive, earning two medals for snowshoeing at the Ontario Special Olympics tournament in Barrie on February 26. Coleman brought home a gold medal in the 200m and a silver medal in the 100m races. He is now one step closer to his hopes of re-qualifying to compete on the world stage.
“He had qualified for Worlds, but what happened is that COVID hit,” explains Heidi Coleman, Jason’s mother and a long-time coach. The international competition for Special Olympics was to be held in Russia in 2021. However, it was delayed due to COVID, and then cancelled when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. “He was so disappointed because he lost his opportunity last year to race for the World’s in Russia. All these athletes trained very hard for two years to compete in the World’s and then were told they were cancelled because of the war. Then, they were told they had to start all over again if they wanted to get a chance for World’s again.”
The Colemans are now waiting to see if Jason has qualified to compete nationally, as that is the next step to get back to World’s. There has also been no word on when that competition will be held. However, none of this uncertainty has dampened Jason’s determination.
Jason has been training extremely hard to get back there. “I am so proud of my son, not just because he wins but because he always gives his 100% when he competes. His determination to go to World’s and win is unbelievable,” beams Heidi.
She gives much credit to the crew and community at Sturgeon Falls’ Body Maxx Fitness, where Jason trains. “First day he was super nervous and didn’t want to go. They help and encourage him, which has made him so much more outgoing. He is dealing with very high anxiety since his father passed away and the ladies at the gym have made it so much easier for him to relax in that environment and outside the gym. He looks forward to going to the gym.”
Jason has been competing in the Special Olympics for just about 36 years in various sports including swimming, baseball, track and field, and now snowshoeing. “Swimming and snowshoeing have been his best [activities],” describes Heidi, adding that even though he doesn’t do competitive swimming anymore, Jason still spends plenty of time doing laps at the local pool for fun. It’s been a long career in sports for him, but his eye is still firmly set on the prize of going to World’s. “He definitely wants to go to World’s. He also said after World’s he is retiring,” says Heidi.
Getting to compete for the whole world to see would certainly be a satisfying way to cap off such a long competitive career.