Getting the chance to compete at the Special Olympics World Games is one thing, walking away with one or more medals is something else.

Medals are something Olympic rowing champion Marnie McBean knows a lot about. As Special Olympics Team Canada’s Honourary Coach, McBean is at the ready to offer support and advice to the athletes and coaches competing in Abu Dhabi.

“I see myself as part mentor and part mascot. I see this Special Olympics World Team for what it is - a group of high-performance athletes who care about what they are doing, their improvement and performance. They have all the same emotions around their ambitions that my peers and I have. So, we talk about that,” said McBean.

Ambition and dedication to their sport is the tie that binds all athletes competing at the Games. So Team Canada’s powerlifter Josée Séguin was fit and ready to take on the world in Saturday’s competition. Séguin’s interest in powerlifting began about eight years ago.

“There weren’t a lot of females that were doing this sport, and I wanted to,” said Séguin.

Her impressive performance included a personal best of 300 lbs., or 130 kilograms on her last dead lift. The Sudbury, Ont., native came away with an astonishing four medals. A gold in dead lift, a gold in bench press, a gold in overall and a silver in squat.

“It feels amazing. I am overwhelmed. There are no words to describe how I am feeling,” commented Séguin enthusiastically.

Séguin credits her coach and trainer Callen McGibbon with the support and guidance that she has received on her way to this moment. That’s the thing; the words from a coach or a mentor can make the difference.

Special Olympics is about making a difference. McBean shared her own account: “Last night I spoke about volume control, turning down negative voices and turning up positive voices. An athletics athlete came up to me with his mom. Through her, he told me that he has negative thoughts about not being a champion. We got to talk about that, normalize that thought, it doesn’t go away- we just need to accept it, turn it down AND turn up the awareness of all his good training.”

Training, dedication and a passion for sport. From the side of or on the field of play, it’s what drives the athletes to compete.  Supporting one another is just part of what makes this event so special. McBean weighed in on her recent conversation with the Athletics athlete, “He felt quite good after our conversation. So, did I. I’ve had many such conversations (about turning around negative thoughts) not only with this group as well as generic Olympians by the way.

Some experiences and responses to them are simply and universally human.

The Special Olympics World Games take place in Abu Dhabi, UAE from March 14 – 21, 2019. For complete details, visit , and .