In just her first year with Special Olympics Airdrie, Kristina Hansen was named the Special Olympian of the Month for January.
The basketball player brings a wealth of experience to Airdrie’s team, having competed with Special Olympics Calgary for 19 years.
“(I keeping coming) back to keep fit and live a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
With plenty of experience behind her, Hansen has been looked to as a leader and mentor with the basketball program, which is currently in its first year of accessibility in Airdrie.
“(Hansen) is very committed and loves the sport, and it shows in (her) practices,” said Special Olympics Airdrie basketball coach Tammy Paulence. “(She’s) a great role model to her teammates.”
Hansen said she enjoys being a leader and helping other athletes learn the sport.
One of her favourite things about Special Olympics, Hansen said, is interacting with fellow athletes and making new friends.
In addition to basketball, which Hansen has been involved with for many years, she also takes part in generic figure skating with two different clubs – Peak Performance in Airdrie and Huntington Hills in Calgary.
Hansen has competed nationally in figure skating, taking part in three Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.
The 31-year-old will return to national competition when she and the Special Olympics Calgary basketball team represents Alberta at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in this year in Antigonish, N.S.
Hansen said she is enjoying the team aspect involved with basketball.
“I get less nervous, because in skating, I’m too nervous,” she said.
The multi-sport athlete keeps busy competing in basketball, figure skating, snowshoeing, bocce and golf. She has also previously participated in soccer and rhythmic gymnastics.
“I was doing generic soccer and then I couldn’t keep up with (the other players), so I was like ‘that’s enough of this,’” Hansen said.
Outside of sports, Hansen enjoys doing crafts, socializing and playing games.
Like most athletes, Hansen urges people that might be interested in Special Olympics to get involved.
“Give it a try, find a sport you like and give it a shot,” Hansen said.