My Story: The Athlete
Coralee Cooke: Figure Skater
Coralee Cooke has been a Special Olympics athlete since 1996. In her time with Special Olympics, she has competed in bowling, swimming, and most recently has become an elite Special Olympics skater. When you first meet Coralee, her kindness and determination for skating are extremely evident. What isn’t evident is the challenges that have faced Coralee most of her life and the extreme grace that she has overcome them with.
Coralee faces short term memory loss and directional challenges on a daily basis. This has been a major barrier in Coralee’s life, but not one that she hasn’t been able to conquer. 12 years ago, Coralee set a goal for herself that she wanted to win a World Championship in Figure skating. To do this, Coralee and her coach, Bev, trained tirelessly on her technique, strength, agility, and nutrition weekly. This training proved very successful for Coralee, landing her on the podium at National Games in 2000, 2004, and 2008. This, however, was not the World Games that Coralee had been dreaming of, and therefore Coralee kept training. After the 2008 Special Olympics National Winter Games, Coralee finally had her chance and was chosen to represent Canada at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Although nervous, Coralee hit the ice with the confidence that she had been training for this moment for 9 years. That training once again proved successful as Coralee skated her routine to perfection and came home with the gold medal. To say Special Olympics was proud of Coralee would be an understatement – she proved to our province that training hard and carrying yourself with dignity can lead you to accomplish anything in your dreams.
“If you could bottle up Coralee’s determination, you could create many champions. She holds within her something many others wish they had. I have seen her work harder than anyone else in our club not only because of her challenge but because of her love for skating, her love for winning and because of her passion for life.. They say that you meet many people in your life that come and go, and many people that leave lasting imprints forever. There is no doubt that Coralee is one of those people.” - Jacqueline Tuffs
Michael Qing: Swimmer
Michael Qing has been a Special Olympics swimmer since 2004. When he first started swimming, Michael insisted on taking as many extra swimming lessons as he could to improve his abilities in making him a better overall swimmer. Because of this dedication, Michael went from a beginner swimmer to a strong competitor on the World stage in the span of only three years. Michael also became a World record setter within five years. In 2010, Michael set 8 new World records at the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organization World Championships. Michael has then continued on to represent Special Olympics Canada at the 2011 Special Olympics National Summer Games in Athens, Greece bringing home medals for his impressive performance.
Michael is a true role model for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Michael inspires others to be champions. He encourages his fellow athletes to do and be the best that they can. Michael genuinely wants to see others succeed and will do whatever he can to help them reach their full potential. Michael has proven to be an unselfish competitor, as well as a prominent example of a well-rounded athlete. Michael embodies the true spirit of Special Olympics – although he has achieved great success, Michael is a humble individual who simply tries to be the best that he can.