Jeremy Cheverie scores during a practice drill at St. Michael's University. Cheverie will be one of Canada's men's soccer players representing the country as the only Vancouver Island athlete at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July. B.C. June 18

Soccer man prepares to take on world

Special Olympics World Games loom large for Langford athlete

Jeremy Cheverie lines up a ball, winds up, and strikes it into the corner for a goal.

A couple of high fives later, Cheverie is back in line awaiting his next kick. It’s just a practice, but the 38-year-old athlete is as vocal and energized on the field as if it’s a real game. With a hearty smile a fixture on his face, he is ready to compete in the Special Olympics World Games.

“It is going to be a little overwhelming for me. I will be a little nervous, but it will be an honour representing my country,” Cheverie says. “I am just going to go over there and make my province and country proud of me and give it all I can do and just have fun and hopefully come back with a medal.”

The Langford resident makes his way to Los Angeles later this summer for the biggest sporting event for athletes with mental disabilities, and one of the biggest events in the world. Approximately 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers, will descend upon the “City of Angels” for the Games, set for July 25 to Aug. 2. The competition will see the most participants in a sporting event in Los Angeles since the Olympic Games in 1984.

“I am really excited. It’s my first one, so it’s going to be a good experience,” Cheverie says. “The best part of being an athlete is going out, competing and doing my best … helping fellow athletes I know, and keep competing to my ability – just having fun.”

The multi-talented athlete participates in baseball, soccer, snowshoe, track, floor hockey, 10-pin bowling and five-on-five soccer, for which he was selected to the Special Olympics national team.

But he’s equally adept off the field, says Special Olympics spokesperson and coach Kim Perkins. A recent high-profile award nomination is a perfect representation of who Jeremy is, she adds.

“The Spirit of Sport award is presented to an athlete that exemplifies the true meaning of sportsmanship, shows dedication, enthusiasm and gives their best effort,” she says. “Without a doubt, Jeremy exemplifies all those qualities and traits. He consistently is always the most gracious athlete on the field, he congratulates all participants, even those he is competing against.”

Perkins says Cheverie, who works at the Staples in Langford when he isn’t training, has been a tireless fundraiser, teammate and friend, even bringing back knowledge from high-performance training camps to his friends in Victoria with a genuine interest in seeing others around him succeed. She says Cheverie deserves the recognition he is getting today.

“Jeremy is the only athlete from (Greater) Victoria who is going to be participating in the international games this summer. We’re very proud of him for accomplishing that; it’s a big accomplishment. I have no doubt he will succeed both athletically at the Games, and personally. I think it is wonderful for Victoria to have such a wonderful person representing us there at the games.”

For more information on the World Games, visit la2015.org. Many of the events will be broadcast on ESPN between July 25 and Aug. 2.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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