KENSINGTON – Roy and Sarah Paynter make a great team.
Not only do they enjoy a special son and mother relationship, but the Kensington residents have teamed up to achieve a very significant sporting accomplishment.
As a result of their hard work and dedication, Roy has earned the right to wear his country’s colours on the international stage. He’s been named to Team Canada’s swimming team for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi from March 14 to 21.
“When I found out, I didn’t know what to say,” said Paynter in an interview with the Journal Pioneer on Friday morning. “I was very surprised.”
What makes this accomplishment extra special for Paynter, who has competed in Special Olympics for 20 years, is that Sarah is not only his mother – but his coach!
“My mom has helped in a lot of ways by being a great coach and an awesome mom,” said Roy, who was selected for Team Canada following a strong showing at the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S. “I’m very proud of myself and my mom and coach.”
Roy, 21, won a total of six medals – gold in the 50-metre freestyle, gold in 50-metre backstroke, silver in the 100-metre freestyle, bronze in the 50-metre breaststroke, bronze in the 100-metre breaststroke and joined forces with Nova Scotia to win bronze in the 4x50-metre relay – at the National Summer Games.
“When Roy races he’s very competitive,” said Sarah. “If there’s someone close in the race he will fight until the end . . . As a mom I couldn’t be prouder.
“I don’t usually get emotional with the swims of any of my swimmers, but both Roy and (Team P.E.I. swimmer) Ellen (MacNearney) brought the tears out at nationals.”
MacNearney won gold in the 400-metre freestyle, silver in the 4x25 relay, bronze in the 4x50 relay, silver in the 200 individual medley and was fourth in three other events.
Special Olympics P.E.I. program director Matthew McNally, who served as Team P.E.I.’s chef de mission in Antigonish, noted Team Canada’s selection process was handled by a committee at Special Olympics Canada, and Roy will be the only representative from P.E.I.
“We are extremely proud of Roy and his accomplishments,” said McNally. “He has been involved in Special Olympics for a number of years, and has trained very hard.
“He went to Vancouver in 2014 and had good results (at the National Summer Games), but he wanted better. So he continued to train and train with the support of his mother as head coach, and a lot of the athletes around Team P.E.I.”
Although Sarah will not coach Roy in Abu Dhabi – Special Olympics Canada has head and assistant coaches from across the country appointed for the Games – she has been identified as Roy’s training coach.
“Sarah has been appointed with the important role of getting him prepared,” said McNally.
Roy’s preparation for the World Games includes attending a national team training camp in Toronto in October.
“Basically, from that point until send-off ceremonies, Roy will be training on P.E.I., and attending local competitions in the Atlantic region, to get him ready for the World Games,” said McNally.
When asked how he thinks it will feel to pull on the Team Canada uniform for the first time, Roy replied: “Amazing. It will also be scary being it’s my first time going to worlds.”
Need To Know
A look at the Special Olympics
World Summer Games:
Dates are March 14 to 21 in Abu Dhabi.
Team Canada consists of athletes from all 12 participating Special Olympics provinces/territories across Canada.
Team Canada members will be hard at work training over the next six months. The team will come together for the first time for two sets of training camps in Toronto from Oct. 11 to 14 and Oct. 18 to 21.
A media release issued by Special Olympics Canada notes the Special Olympics World Summer Games will be the largest sport and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2019.
Olympic rower and longtime Special Olympics champion and supporter Marnie McBean has been named honorary coach for Team Canada.