— Michael Budden is going for gold this June.
Budden, a Community Leadership Development (CLD) student at College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Bay St. George campus, is headed to Berlin, Germany to participate in the 2023 Special Olympics World Games.
“It feels great to go to Berlin. I am excited to see a brand-new country and to have a brand-new experience I will always remember,” said the first-year student. “I love representing Canada on at a world competition. It is very exhilarating to be part of such an exciting event.”
Budden, who leaves for Toronto on June 9 and after the staging there, he will continue to Germany in the following days. He is one of 128 team members from across the country and will be competing in be the 400-metre, shotput, and relay events.
“I trained with Team Canada for Cross Country Skiing and was scheduled to compete at the World Games in Russia in 2022. The World Games in Russia were cancelled due to COVID-19 and then the war (in Ukraine),” he explained. “In 2022, I qualified for Canada Games as a Special Olympian, upon returning from Canada Games I was notified that I made the Special Olympics team Canada to compete in Berlin, Germany.”
The Special Olympics World Games take place from June 17-25 – the first time on an international stage since 2019. The event will host more than 7,000 athletes from approximately 170 countries who will compete in more than 24 different sports. The athletes will be supported by more than 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers. Touted as “the opportunity to unite the world like no other event can,” people with and without disabilities, people of different nations, cultures, political views and religions meet and can overcome existing prejudices with the power of sport.
Originally from Stephenville, Budden says he began to take sports more seriously when he started high school.
“It took me a while to get involved with the Special Olympics program. My parents and my running coach really encouraged me. I never really knew where I would fit in the program. Finally, in Grade 8, I figured I would give it a try. I loved being so active and always having something to do.”
He credits his coach, Rosie Ryan, for playing a big role in getting him to the world stage.
“My coach encouraged me to continue with my generic sports and to try lots of new sports in the Special Olympics,” said Budden. “The Braveheart team was very welcoming and the more I got involved, the stronger I performed, and I soon learned about travelling and competing at higher and higher levels.”
Ryan, who coaches the Bay St. George Bravehearts, says Budden is an inspiration.
“Michael is a pleasure to coach with his dedication, strong commitment, and positive mindset. He always looks to perfect his skillset through hard training, but thoroughly enjoys the journey. He inspires me weekly with his determination and resilience as he trains vigorously to accomplish the goals, he set for himself in Berlin.”
Budden will be accompanied by Ryan and teammate, Samantha Walsh, who is competing in Berlin in the 100-metre and long jump events.
“As a club we are so excited,” said Ryan. “This is the first time the Bay St. George Bravehearts have had two athletes make the world games. I have been blessed to have been selected as part of the coaching staff for the Canadian athletics team that will be travelling to Berlin.”
Balancing education and training
Carol Ingram, Senior Campus Director at Bay St. George Campus, says Budden is a great presence at the college.
“Michael’s accomplishments are not surprising to those who know him at the campus,” she said. “He is determined. In addition to his dedication to his athletic accomplishments, he works diligently at his studies and student life. He does his utmost to ensure those around him are included in the activities at the campus and he has volunteered for many activities, including Fall Orientation and Open House. He has been described as an asset to the campus. His pleasant and positive demeanour make everyone feel at ease.”
The busy athlete says his time at the Bay St. George campus has been great.
“I really like being at CNA. I like that the courses are fun and interactive. There is a lot of work in the program, but everyone is very supportive. I love residence and being on my own. The residence is a great place to meet a lot of people from my own province as well as many other cultures.”
Budden says he also highly recommends the Community Leadership Development program as it supports the notion of volunteering and getting more involved in your community in many ways.
“I would recommend this program to anyone interested and wanting to be involved in their community and helping other people. The teachers are really supportive, it is great having small classes so we can bond with each other and really help each other have fun while working hard.”
For more information about CLD and other CNA programs, visit www.cna.nl.ca
To learn more about the Special Olympics World Games, visit here
College of the North Atlantic