Jenny Murray: Alberta to Berlin.

Meet the Athletes!

Jenny Murray was supposed to go to the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Russia before they were canceled. Now, she gets to show off her soccer skills on the world stage this summer in Berlin where her and her team will compete against athletes from over 170 countries.

By Sarah Spisak

Uniform? Check. Cleats? Check. Passport? Check.

Her years of training have all led up to this moment. In June 2023, Jenny Murray will pack up her suitcase and fly to Berlin where she will compete with her soccer team in the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Her team is made up of Special Olympics athletes from across the country, and, together, they’ll represent Canada on the world stage.

Jenny has been an athlete with Special Olympics Alberta Edmonton for most of her adult life, having joined soccer in 2012 at the age of 28. Since then, Jenny has become a top athlete and competed in four Provincials and three Nationals. She’s currently training for her fifth Provincials.

But this will be her first time at Worlds.

“I was supposed to go to the Winter Worlds in Russia, but that got canceled, so this will be my first Worlds where I’m actually going,” she laughs.

Jenny first heard about Special Olympics through her friend at high school.

“She kept asking me to join, and my sisters were always into soccer,” she says. “I always watched them play soccer and then I wanted to play. So, I joined soccer and that’s how I started.”

Besides soccer, Jenny also competes in snowshoeing, a sport that her sister Kelly Izombard helps coach.

“I started helping out in 2018,” Kelly says. “Jenny figured because I love being outside, we’ve ran a few races together, and I already snowshoed, that I would really enjoy it. Turns out, she was totally right.”

On Sundays, Jenny meets up with her sister and fellow snowshoers to train and keep active. Thursdays are when she trains for soccer and prepares for Worlds.

Some of Jenny’s favourite memories with Special Olympics involve her soccer team and her long-time coach, Amanda Trenchard.

"When Jenny first came out, she was pretty pretty quiet but I noticed right away that she had some ability so I moved her from one group to the other," Amanda says.

"The first day I met her was kind of a crazy day. We had an incident with another athlete; the only time in my entire special Olympics career I had to go hands on," Amanda laughs. "I was worried she wouldn’t come back but she kept coming back."

“We went to Mississauga Ontario for an all-women’s soccer tournament, and came back with gold,” Jenny fondly remembers. “Another time, we were all in the pool and Amanda just rips off her watch, and with all her clothes on, just jumps into the pool,” she laughs. “She’s so fun.”

Through Special Olympics, Jenny has been able to come out of her shell. She’s no longer shy and her motivating spirit, sense of humour, and huge heart light up everyone around her.

“Jenny is a very passionate person especially when it comes to her sports,” Kelly says. “A jokester who is very caring especially with her friends and family, and 100% dedicated to her training even when she’s tired and doesn’t feel like it.

“It’s so nice to see the confidence she has in herself and her abilities to be a leader for others when needed.”

When asked what she’s most excited for when it comes to Worlds, Jenny says she’s looking forward to bonding with her team.

“I’m hoping we will come back with a medal, but if not, it’s all about the experience and seeing how we compare against the rest of the world,” she says. “I’m pretty excited.”

Jenny and her teammates will join around 7,000 athletes from 170 countries in Berlin this summer, and another 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers.

“She’s become such a strong, confident role model for all of us,” Kelly says. “She’s a true inspiration and proves what hard work and great attitude will accomplish. It’s a fantastic to thing to watch.”