Mark Peddle wants to win a gold medal with his soccer team at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S., this month and go on to the global Games. Winning gold would qualify him and his team to represent Canada at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The 31-year-old Special Olympics athlete is captain of the soccer team based in Mount Pearl, Nfld. Peddle hopes the team can better the silver they won previously at the last Canadian Summer Games, a career highlight.
While Peddle has won many medals for running, his favourite sports are soccer and floor hockey. He prefers team sports because he gets to play with his friends and enjoys being on the same side as them. He joined Special Olympics at 18 when his mom, Heather, a coach for the organization, convinced him to come out for a game.
“Playing on team sports changed my social life a lot,” Peddle says. “I’ve got a lot of friends and I’m in great shape. It’s also matured me and made me feel confident to be on my own sometimes. I do more things independently now.”
Peddle has been employed by Sobey’s since 2009 and co-hosted the Special Olympics National Awards in 2016. He’s also an athlete leader and speaker for Special Olympics, mentored by his soccer coach Travis Maher, who helps with his speeches.
“Mark has proved over the years that he’s a fantastic speaker,” says Maher. “From where he started to where he’s at, it’s been leaps and bounds, not only in his sports, but also in his speech writing and his ability to capture a crowd. Mark’s literally blown my mind with how well he’s done.”