Chris Roberge makes the out at second for Team Canada in their 8-5 win over Mexico in the bronze medal game at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Chris Roberge makes the out at second for Team Canada in their 8-5 win over Mexico in the bronze medal game at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Athletes awesome at Special Olympics World Summer Games

Comox Valley trio collects five medals over nine days of competition and friendship

Not only did three Comox Valley athletes put their best foot forward on the world stage, they took it a big step farther and ascended the medal podium.

Robert Burns, Chris Roberge and Brad Hogan were part of the 114-athlete Team Canada contingent at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, Calif. and the trio collected five medals during the nine days (July 25 to Aug. 2) of competition.

Burns, who will soon be 63, has been with Special Olympics for 16 years. He won gold in the standing long jump and silver in the 50m. Roberge and Hogan were on the Grizzlies softball team that won bronze, with Hogan picking up an additional medal for being chosen to play in a VIP game.

All three earned their Special Olympics Team Canada berths through their outstanding performances with Team BC in the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games in Vancouver. Burns won three individual athletics medals – two gold and one bronze – and Roberge and Hogan struck gold with their softball team.

The trio returned to the Valley Aug. 4 and said that after 14 days on the road it was nice to be home. Their first week in L.A. was spent in Orange County, where they got to take in the Orange County Fair with its servings of super-sized food and wild rides.

“The food was huge, but we couldn’t touch it because we were in training,” Roberge said. “There were lots of rides. We went on a few of them. Brad went on one that had him screaming.”

“I don’t know what (the ride) was called, but I never want to go on it again,” Hogan said. He said a video of him “enjoying” the ride is on YouTube but cautions that some of his language might not be suitable for all family members.

The three agreed that taking in an Angels vs. Twins MLB game was a highlight of the trip. For the second week, the athletes stayed at either the big (and completely smoke-free) UCLA campus and Chapman University.

Burns said the weather was super hot the second week after being milder with some cooling winds the first week. He was able to overcome the heat, winning both his medals on the same day (July 29). Battling injuries from a car accident, Burns was believed to be the oldest participant from B.C. and the second oldest at the 7,000-athlete Games, behind a bocce player from back east.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies kept their cool in the hot conditions and added a bronze medal to the silver they won in 2011 and the gold garnered in 1999 by beating Mexico 8-5.

Roberge, 33, played pitcher, catcher, first base and second base while 32-year-old Hogan saw action at shortstop and third base. Roberge said his highlight came against India when he had his glove in perfect position at first base to snare a hard-hit line drive.

Hogan’s highlight came in the bronze medal game. “We were down 3-0 and I got a two-run home run to get us going.” He also made a great diving catch for the third out of an inning. “In that game my infielding was particularly good. When we won the medal it made my year.”

Hogan was chosen to play in a Unified Sports Experience (“I call it a VIP game,” he said) game where he played alongside “superstars and celebrities.”

“There were four teams, with six players from Team Canada on it. We just go out there and have fun,” Hogan said. “I met Ed Harris the actor, one of the moments I thought was cool. The other was I caught a fly ball from a hall of fame basketball player. I don’t remember his name – he was tall and big.”

While the 2015 Games were Hogan’s first time across the U.S.-Canada border, Burns has flown to Manitoba and Ontario for training camps while Roberge was with the 2011 softball team that won silver in Athens, Greece.

Noting that the Grizzlies have been to the World Summer Games three times, Hogan said it was announced at the Team Canada send-off in Vancouver that the team will be inducted into the Special Olympics B.C. Hall of Fame this fall.

“We wanted to tell them in person, so we used the Team Canada send-off as that opportunity – but we actually haven’t officially announced this publicly yet; that will be coming in September,” said Megan Grittani-Livingston, Communications Liaison with Special Olympics Team Canada and Manager, Communications, Special Olympics BC.

While the athletes will have time to relax and reflect on their accomplishments, there is more competition coming their way. Roberge is a member of the Comox Valley floor hockey team going to Newfoundland in March for the nationals, while Burns is preparing for another season of curling. “I’m really a good curler,” he said.

Along with the medals, all three will remember the 2015 Games for  the chance to represent their country and make new friends while enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

GAMES NOTES Team Canada brought home a record-breaking 144 medals (70 gold, 48 silver and 26 bronze) and countless personal bests … the Games are the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015 and hosted roughly 7,000 athletes from 177 countries … Canada sent 164 representatives in total …

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtenay Nissan’s Matthew Bourassa, Geoff Piper and Sean LaFleur join YANA’s Ashley Smith, Kelly Rusk and Lisa Wilcox for the 4x4x48 event to raise funds. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Courtenay Nissan eats and runs for YANA

Dealership realized non-profit groups need new ways to raise funds during COVID

Rev. Sulin Milne at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Comox is part of those helping distribute food to those in need within the town. Photo by Jim Peacock
Comox church serving the community with food through COVID-19

“We knew there were so many people who were facing economic challenges …”

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Courtenay man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Cole Moore’s sister sets up GoFundMe to help father looking after brother

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Nineteen people arrested, charges expected in Courtenay house raid

Investigators are continuing to comb through evidence seized

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Concerned citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read