Taxation Centre employee and winner of the 2008 Special Olympics Canada Female Athlete of the Year.
Bio: This multi-talented athlete was born and raised in St. John’s and attended school at St. Patrick’s School for Girls. In 1978, she took up running, basketball and the soft ball throw—for which she won a gold medal for the Long Distance Throw in the Canadian Special Olympics’ national competition in the same year. Since then, she’s moved to Mount Pearl to live with her brother and sister-in-law, and has taken up floor hockey, bowling, and soccer. Three years ago she lost 124 pounds for her athletic endeavours, and this February, she and her floor hockey team, The Newfoundland Tigers, won the gold medal at the Special Olympics Canada National Winter Games in Quebec City. Last week, Janet was chosen as the 2008 Special Olympics Canada Female Athlete of the Year from a large group of nominees hailing from all across the country. According to Deborah Bright, CEO of Special Olympics Canada, Janet was chosen because she “exemplifies the spirit and qualities of a great athlete through her perseverance, competitive achievements and her eternally positive attitude.” To even be nominated, she had to first be selected as both the regional and provincial Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year. Her brother proudly claims that she’s now won more awards than all her other brothers and sisters combined.
So, how does it feel to be a role model for young athletes across the country?: “It feels good!” she says, adding that she feels pretty well-prepared for the job. “I’ve worked very hard.”
What was your favorite moment at the Special Olympics in Quebec?: “The end of the last game, when we won three to two. There were two people in the penalty box on my team, and we won. And we won on our coach’s birthday!” She adds sheepishly that she was one of the people in the penalty box.
Any words of wisdom for young athletes?: “Good luck, and always try to be really, really, really happy. Don’t forget to say the oath before the competition: ‘Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.'”
— Sarah Smellie