Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Award for Canada's Best Speed Skating Story goes to teen with Down syndrome

From The Mississauga News in Canada:

After five weeks and over 35,000 online votes from across the country, the title of Canada’s Best Speed Skating Story has been awarded to Meadowvale’s Scott MacHattie for his video, “Speed Skating — The Inclusive Sport.”

The presentation was made March 21 at Calgary’s Olympic Oval.

The 16-year-old athlete with Down Syndrome made his way up to the stage to accept his award from Canadian speed skating Olympian, Catriona Le May Doan, who hosted the gala evening. (Scott is second from right in the picture.)

“It was a weekend that Scott will never forget. It will take some work bringing him down to earth again,” said his father Ross MacHattie.

World champion speed skater, Jeremy Wotherspoon, who sat beside the winner during the awards party, commented on MacHattie’s winning entry. “I really enjoyed Scott’s video. His message that speed skating is an inclusive sport proves anyone of any age or ability can enjoy speed skating, even at the competitive level, like he has. He’s a great kid and I’m proud of him.”

MacHattie took home prizes from Timex, General Mills, Bell and Canon along with a brand new pair of speed skates, while his coach, Kelly Brennan, accepted a $5,000 cheque for the the Oakville Speed Skating Club where MacHattie trains. The contest, now in its second year, is sponsored by ING bank.

“When we began the search for Canada’s best speed skating story, the goal was to provide young skaters from across the country with a voice — a way of building a speed skating community by sharing their love for the sport. I can see why Scott’s story resonated with Canadians — he’s an inspiring young athlete with Down Syndrome who has become a real trail blazer in the sport of speed skating,” said Catriona, who’s ING’s community ambassador.

MacHattie has been active in many sports and has always been willing to try something new. So when his mom Carla saw an Oakville Speed Skating Club notice
saying it was hosting a Special Olympics session, she thought her son would enjoy it.

MacHattie immediately took to the sport and now lists it as his favourite. He became so good at it, he participated in the 2007 provincial Special Olympics, picking up three golds and a bronze.

MacHatties’ video focuses on how the sport is inclusive, using his family as an example. His two younger brothers, Evan, 14, and Quinn, 11, are also avid speed skaters.