Athletes on track for fun and competition

Special Olympians gather weekly at the Oak Bay High track

Volunteer Jean Tetarenko coaches athletes Lidia White and Mark Hamblett down the track at Oak Bay High while a crowd gathers early for the weekly practice of the Victoria Special Olympics team.

Volunteer Jean Tetarenko coaches athletes Lidia White and Mark Hamblett down the track at Oak Bay High while a crowd gathers early for the weekly practice of the Victoria Special Olympics team.

Monday huddles at the Oak Bay High track reach numbers well beyond the 55 registered athletes in Victoria Special Olympics’ track program.

Athletes in the program, those on the waitlist and volunteer coaches gather once a week for the spring program that covers the basics of track, running, throwing and jumping.

“Ultimately the goal is to be out and participating in sports,” said head coach Jean Tetarenko, of Central Saanich, in her six or seventh year of coaching. “It’s one of the things you come to practice and you get so much back. It’s genuine athletes who are here because they really love sport.”

Like many SOBC Victoria programs, it runs for 12 weeks, at least once a week for a minimum of one hour.

“We have athletes of all abilities training together. We develop programs that allow everybody to participate at their level,” Tetarenko said, gesturing to the rapidly growing group on the track. “Many of these athletes are in training for our regional qualifier meet June 18 in Nanaimo.”

The program highlights positives of sport, teamwork and support. Every athlete matters, whether they finish first or eighth, says Lidia White, who has a decade of experience in the athletic (track) program.

“I had been a part of the school teams and I wasn’t having positive experience,” she said. Her mom noticed and sought out the SOBC Victoria programming as a way to develop those positives. It worked.

“Every year I join I have a new interest, a new drive,” said White, a multi-sport athlete who has participated in Special Olympics swimming, softball, curling and more. “I like our little community, everybody is supportive. You have that sense of feeling supported.”

That support for each other doesn’t negate the competitive nature of the athletes and desire to improve.

“Really the emphasis is your personal best,” Tetarenko said.

Mark Hamblett, of Saanich, has nine years with the track club after testing the waters on advice from a friend.

“I quickly realized how much variety of opportunity there is in the organization. Sport is a huge part of my life,” Hamblett said. An official for hockey, baseball and recently lacrosse, his top competitive passions are speed skating and track.

“I’m an all-around athlete …. a year-round runner. if I don’t do something it doesn’t feel right,” he said. “The community is a very supportive community. It’s a healthy, competitive environment.”

High-level competitions also offer an expanded support network and challenge. This year he was selected to Team BC as a speed skater at the 2016 Winter National Games in Cornerbrook, Nfld. He medalled in all his events – a gold, a silver and two bronze.

“I know athletes now probably in almost every province,” Hamblett said. “It’s a big family.”

While the track program is full with 55 athletes and several on a waiting list, other programs are still accepting new athletes. In Victoria, 235 athletes are active in 21 programs in the 2015-2016 season. Learn more at



Just Posted

An eastern cottontail rabbit on the UVic campus. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Wild rabbits persist at the University of Victoria

Feral rabbits are still absent, but another non-native species has arrived on campus

This conceptual rendering shows revisions to the proposed warehouse in Sidney on land under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority. York Realty, which plans to build, then lease the building, said significant changes to the the massing and height of the building respond to community feedback. Additional feedback can be submitted until June 30. (Screencap/York Realty)
Sidney warehouse proposal lands Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce endorsement

Public has until June 30 to submit additional comments after significant modifications

Staff will be reviewing public feedback from second-stage designs for cycling infrastructure in James Bay, part of the City of Victoria’s 32-kilometre network. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria sends James Bay bike lanes choice to next phase

Design modifications based on community input to be delivered to council this summer

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read