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Special Olympian Joanne Bunnin returns with gold

Chilliwack athlete Joanne Bunnin returns from the Special Olympic games with 3 gold medals in powerlifting.
Chilliwack athlete Joanne Bunnin is congratulated by Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz Tuesday

Local athlete Joanne Bunnin arrived home from the Special Olympic Games in Los Angeles with 3 gold medals in powerlifting. She was welcomed back in celebration by friends, family, fellow athletes, and community members at Staples on August 4.

When Bunnin arrived to the cheering Staples crowd, she was thrilled, "I don't believe this - this is so awesome!" she called out. As dozens of people filtered in, Bunnin made sure to thank and hug everyone who came to celebrate her success.

While the competition was fierce throughout the two-week Special Olympics World Summer Games (July 25 - August 2), Team Canada's 114 athletes put up a great fight.

Canada brought home 144 medals, consisting of 70 gold, 48 silver and 26 bronze.

Team Canada "shattered expectations, set a new standard for National Team excellence and represented our country with great class,” noted Johnny Byrne, Team Canada Chef de Mission, in a press release.

Joanne BunninBunnin took home three gold medals of her own in powerlifting for: Female Bench Press (score of 52.50 kg), Female Dead Lift (score of 120.00 kg), and Female Combination Bench and Dead Lift (score of 172.50).

"I wish you could have seen me lift," Bunnin said to the smiling crowd.

Her years of training in the Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre have certainly paid off, with an outstanding performance in L.A.

"We're thrilled that you've represented not only B.C. and Chilliwack, but Canada, in the World Games," said Wayne Williams, Chilliwack Equipment Coordinator and coach at Special Olympics B.C. (SOBC), as Bunnin was presented with flowers and a congratulatory plaque.

Bunnin, who has been participating in Special Olympics for over 10 years, was "overwhelmed" by the warm wishes and congratulations that she received from all who attended.

But her applause is well-deserved, said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz. "Everyone who wants to get anywhere in life knows that it doesn't come easy; it's hard work," said Gaetz.  "Congratulations on your determination. You've made our city so proud."

Bunnin has been supported as an athlete by her enthusiastic family, her local coaches (Bill Stewart, Jason Bertrand, Lynn Martinow, Michelle Riley, and Jo Newell), as well as the National Team coaches, "without their direction and training, as well as Joanne's dedication, this would not be possible," said Williams.

Staples Canada, in partnership with Special Olympics Canada, has raised more than $680,000 for SOBC athletes like Bunnin with their annual 'Give A Toonie. Share a Dream.' campaign.

For a complete list of Team Canada results, visit