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Rondeau pushes past pain to compete

The difference between Special Olympics and Paralympics

The principal differences between the two are the disability of participating athletes and levels of sports ability.

Special Olympics involves athletes from all ability levels with participation from the full range of intellectual disability. Athletics are utilized as an avenue to reach an individuals person’s maximum potential. All athletes are welcome and rewarded for working hard, trying their best and maximizing their potential.

The Paralympics provides world-class competition for disabled athletes at the highest level. Since the Summer Games of Seoul, Korea in 1988 and the Winter Games in Albertville, France in 1992 the Paralympic Games have taken part in the same cities and venues as the Olympics, usually immediately following Olympic Games.

At a recent Nordic competition in Craftsbury, Vt, Joy Rondeau, a Granby resident, was asked by the U.S. Nordic Paralympic coaches to join their World Cup team and travel to their next event in Finsterau, Germany in February. According to Mark Birdseye, Nordic Coach for National Sport for the Disabled (NSCD), “The U.S. coaches were very impressed with Joy’s performance.”

Joy Rondeau, born with Cerebral Palsy, was discouraged from participating in sports due to her high level of pain. All that changed about 18 months ago, when she met Birdseye.

“Mark encouraged me to try nordic sit skiing and would not leave me alone until I did,” Rondeau said. “Much to my surprise, once I started skiing (and training) my physical pain was gone.”

“Our athletes train (and cross train) year round, just like an elite athlete,” Birdseye said.

“Joy is training to compete in both nordic skiing and biathlon. Joy loves nordic skiing because she pushes herself past her breaking point which gives her a great sense of accomplishment.”

Rondeau hopes to compete in nordic sit ski and biathlon at the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea.