Manitoba Athletes Shine at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023
Regan Hofley, Rebecca Birss, Alec Baldwin, Jason Norminton, Colleen Voth, William Hall, Jennifer Adams, and Reetu Chahal – you won’t soon forget these names.
These are the athletes from Manitoba who were selected to Special Olympics Team Canada for the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. Through hard work and exceptional skill, these extraordinary individuals showcased their indomitable spirit, raw talent, and unwavering determination on the world stage. With eight athletes and three exceptional coaches/mission staff from Manitoba, Team Canada has left an enduring mark on the world of sports. Let's dive into their inspirational journey and celebrate their remarkable achievements!
From the moment they stepped foot in Berlin, the Manitoba contingent radiated infectious energy that ignited hope and inspiration in all who crossed their path. The World Games were an unforgettable experience for them, and their performances were nothing short of breathtaking to us. Whether on the podium or not, the sheer pride we have for them having been selected to represent our country is unending. To say you went against the best in the world is a statement few can make.
The Power of Teamwork
Behind every athlete's success story lies an incredible support system. Special Olympics Team Canada was guided by five exceptional coaches and mission staff who have tirelessly nurtured their talents and fostered their dreams. Sue Lamboo, Steve Dreger, Erin Harper, Jacqueline Mazur, and Jody Norminton are volunteers who used their expertise, passion, and drive to create a safe and fun environment for our athletes, and all those on Team Canada. What a comfort to be able to have such familiar faces from the organization on this journey with our athletes on their road to Berlin.
A special shout-out to all of the training coaches who spent months preparing the athletes for the Games:
Bre Nichol (Basketball)
Jed Barber (Golf)
Dave Toupin (Bocce)
Janice Howe (Athletics)
Lena Kublick (Athletics)
Jennifer Merrell (Rhythmic Gymnastics)
Chris Sumner (Bowling)
These are sometimes the unsung heroes behind the scenes who help athletes like Regan, or Alex, or Jason, have a fair shot at going for the Gold. And go for the Gold they did!
Our athletes proved that they were unstoppable forces to be reckoned with, leaving no doubt about their prowess. They brought home an impressive haul of 15 medals, proving that our athletes are here to win. Every stride, jump, and throw resonated with unparalleled determination and showcased how hard they’ve worked over the last year - how dedicated and unwavering they were in their commitment.
Regan Hofley - 1 Gold & 1 Bronze
Rebecca Birss - 2 Gold & 2 Bronze
Jennifer Adams - 1 Gold
Jason Norminton - 4th in the WORLD!
Alec Baldwin - 2 Gold & 1 Bronze
Colleen Voth - 1 Silver
William Hall - 1 Gold
Reetu Chahal - 3 Bronze
*Steven Dreger, Assistant Coach for Soccer, helped lead Team Canada to a Bronze.
But the triumph didn't end there. The true essence of the Special Olympics lies not just in the medals, but also in the sportsmanship and kindness of the human spirit that it encapsulates. Team Canada exemplified this spirit, teaching us that victory lies not just in winning, but in conquering the challenges that life throws our way. Our athletes are no strangers to adversity, and this showing at the World Games solidifies that #Inclusion is the way!
While the medals undoubtedly symbolize achievement, the 2023 Special Olympics World Games transcended mere competition. It was a celebration of unity, inclusion, and the unrelenting spirit of the human race. The Manitoba athletes embraced this ethos, forging lifelong friendships and embracing the global Special Olympics family.
Our team members were also met with quite a lovely surprise when the competition began. Athlete Brita Hall, and her mother Birgit, decided to fly to Berlin and volunteer with the Games. According to those who ran into them, it was an uplifting moment when they were met with a reminder of home.
The #InclusionRevolution is upon us, and Canada is leading the pack. We’re so proud that three of our volunteer members of the team were knocking down barriers. This team was one of firsts, and we’re (thrilled) to see Manitoba paving the way:
- Assistant Soccer Coach and SOM staff member, Steve Dreger, was a part of the first female soccer team to go to the World Games for Team Canada.
- Assistant Powerlifting Coach, Jacqueline Mazur, was the first female powerlifting coach for Team Canada.
- Erin Harper, SOM staff member and coach, was the first sign language support for Team Canada.
Congratulations to the athletes, coaches, and mission staff of Team Manitoba for their incredible achievements. You have not only made your province proud but also ignited a flame of inspiration that will continue to burn brightly in the hearts of all who witnessed your extraordinary journey.
A special thank you to Assistant Soccer Coach and Special Olympics Manitoba staff member, Steve Dreger, for capturing the spirit of the Games through pictures. Thank you to Special Olympics Canada for the use of their photos as well!
For the official Special Olympics Team Canada page, with photos, videos, and more information, please head to their website: