TRURO – Anthony James hopes to wow the world.
James, a 25-year-old from Truro, is on his way to test his speed at the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in the United Arab Emirates. He will be competing as a member of Team Canada in track and field events – the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay. He’s also a back-up runner for the 4x400m relay team.
He said his chances of bringing home a medal are “very high.”
“I’m bringing one home no matter what the colour,” he said, adding he was excited for the opportunity. “I’m excited, yeah, for meeting new people and having fun.”
James earned his spot representing Canada at the world stage after successful competitions at provincials and nationals. The latter were held this past summer in Antigonish, and James qualified for Team Canada with one gold and two silver place finishes. He also came home with two bronze in relay events, which don’t qualify for a spot representing Team Canada. But it’s not just the medal finishes that count, says James. Attitude and effort are also important.
James started in track and field events when he was in Grade 9. He was being bullied at the time, and when it was suggested he join track and field, he realized he could get away from his bullies for the day.
“I actually liked the sport,” he said, adding he made provincials that year and claimed a silver in the 100m event. The following year, James hurt his shoulder and wasn’t able to compete in provincials.
After it healed, James’ dad received a call asking if he wanted to join the Special Olympics Cobequid’s track and field team. He joined, and again competed at provincials. After a short leave, he rejoined the team in 2013, competing with the Cobequid Hornets since.
“I like the competitive spirit,” he said, about running. “It’s fun just to race against these competitive people, and I enjoy running. It’s in my nature I guess. With all these competitive people, it’s just so much fun to race against them.
“Win or lose, you’re having fun and that’s all that matters.”
To prepare for the world competition, James was training three to four days a week working on core training, starts training, baton passing, and running turns. Strengthening his stamina was also important, for the laps he’d be running.
Janice Milton has been working with James on the Cobequid Hornets team for the past seven years, however the last three years have included training for Canada Games tryouts, nationals, and now the world competition.
Special Olympics also has a non-competitive, community stream.
“His strength has improved. His starts have improved – we change his technique there,” Milton said. “He’s worked with Heather Patton here at the (Rath Eastlink Community Centre), which we very much appreciated. He’s stronger. His attitude has always been good, so that hasn’t had to change.”
But while James is constantly working on improving things such as his starts, he said it’s his heart that will have the most impact on his competition.
“I put a lot of heart into the race, no matter who the people are,” he said, with Milton agreeing his heart is the most important. “I always give everything I have. I always go 110 per cent in every race no matter how big, or fat, or tough the people is, I always have a lot of heart and never give up.”
While Milton won’t be travelling to Worlds with James, she will still be cheering him on watching what she can on the television and computer. Rosie Ryan, of Newfoundland, will be James’ coach at the competition.
“He’s ready,” Milton said. “We’re proud of him. His hometown team is really supporting him, the Cobequid Hornets. “He says he will be running for Team Canada, and his Team NS and Cobequid teammates. I was not surprised that he didn’t say for himself – Anthony is a fine, humble person.
She said the community has been really supportive of James and his efforts, especially when they see him training on the track at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
For James now, it’s mental preparation as he makes his way to the competition.
“I need to be prepared for these guys because I don’t know who I compete against and I have to be prepared for them,” he said.
Team Canada will have a roster of 109 athletes among the 7,000 competitors from 177 countries competing in 24 sports.
James will head to Dubai for a four-day Host Town program, touring, and learning about the United Arab Emirates’ culture. Following his divisioning races there March 12-13, he will be back in Abu Dhabi for opening ceremonies on March 14. James will then compete in his 100m and 200m sprints during athletics competition in Dubai, March 17-20, with 1,015 athletes involved. Closing ceremonies are in Abu Dhabi on March 21, and Team Canada returns home two days later.
Special Olympics Cobequid has activities for people aged 2 years through adulthood in both competitive or community (non-competitive) streams. More info about being an athlete or a volunteer can be found online at speolycobequid.ca.