Environmental science student Curtis Cook named to Team Canada, 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games
First-year environmental science student Curtis Cook from Pickering, ON will be heading to Berlin, Germany in June 2023 to compete in the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games. A multi-sport athlete, Cook will be competing in Athletics in 400m, 800m, and 1500m distance running.
Cook has cerebral palsy and autism. Growing up, he wore leg braces to assist with his movement. His mom, Linda, got him involved in a lot of movement-based activities to assist with his development — which led him to Special Olympics when he was nine. He started with figure skating, but quickly moved to speed skating, first with hockey skates until he transitioned to actual speed skates. At the age of ten he began track and field, competing in distance running, long jump, shot put, and javelin. He also trained in swimming and is a licensed lifeguard.
“I used to wear leg braces and the constant movement has strengthened my lower body,” says Cook. “My cerebral palsy no longer bothers me at all and I no longer need to wear braces of any kind.”
Cook is looking forward to the largest competition he has ever attended and seeing a different part of the world.
“I hope this will open up greater opportunities for me in both athletics and speed skating,” he says.
He currently trains three days a week, mostly endurance training on both the treadmill and stationary bike, which are available in his residence on campus. He fits in his training after classes and homework, mostly later in the evenings. He also does some weight training at the Fitness Centre on the weekends. He recently returned from a training camp at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, ON, where he trained for much of his life.
One of Cook’s biggest supporters on this journey has been his autism support dog and best friend, a black lab named Ink, who came into his life five years ago.
“Ink has made me a lot more independent,” says Cook. “I don’t feel like I have to rely on so many people when he is around.”
An already accomplished Special Olympics athlete, Cook has won six gold, six silver, and one bronze at national Special Olympics competitions. He has earned four Special Olympics Athlete of the Year awards and an amateur athletics award from the city of Pickering.
The Special Olympics World Games will take place from June 17-25, 2023 and will welcome 7,000 athletes and unified partners from approximately 170 countries to compete in 24 sports.
Good luck Curtis!