Woo-hoo! Rachelle Barbeau!Saturday, January 26, 2013 by: Connie Carello
On Thursday, an excited 24-year-old Rachelle Barbeau boarded a plane on route to PyeongChang, South Korea, the site of the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Approximately 3,300 athletes from around the world will participate in seven Olympic sports, including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, figure skating, short-track speed skating, and floor hockey.
The games are intended to not only promote awareness of various physical and mental conditions, but to promote acceptance, the development of inclusive communities and overall empower athletes to achieve their goals.
Since 1968, the Special Olympics have had over 3.7 million athletes compete in over 170 countries all over the world.
Over the span of eight days - January 29 to February 5 - Barbeau will compete in a series of cross-country ski races, including the 2 km, 5 km, and 7.5 km.
A hard-working, determined young Barbeau refuses to let the fact that she was born with Down Syndrome hold her down.
For her the experience will be an opportunity to make Sault Ste. Marie, the province of Ontario and her country proud.
“I want to do well. I want to ski hard and go all the way to the finish line. I want to finish strong for everyone.”
Parents Paul and Marg Barbeau, avid skiers themselves, are her biggest fans.
Acting as her support system, the Barbeau’s have aided in the development of her skill through consistent coaching and guidance.
Qualifying for team Canada in Alberta by winning two gold medals and one silver, Barbeau credited her father for teaching her so much.
“My dad coaches me to improve my technique. He skis with me and pushes me harder,” Barbeau said.
Mother Marg also commented on her extreme perseverance.
“She has been very dedicated, keeping up with a protein based diet, getting up early in the morning even in the hot weather to run. When it comes to skiing, she can ski all day. She has excellent endurance and doesn’t ever complain. She could have icicles hanging from her eyelashes and she will still keep going,” she laughed.
A woman to look up to, Barbeau emulates the confidence necessary to overcome any barrier or hardship through positive thinking and good work ethic.
“If I had to tell someone some advice about skiing, I would say your doing good. You’ll probably make it, if you stick with it and if you try.”
The extremely fast Barbeau intends to inform me of her success upon her return home, when she hopes to be wearing a gold medal around her neck.
When I asked her if she would coach me in the sport, she smiled and said: “Sure, then I can show you my exhaust pipes.”