As the only Yukoner representing Canada at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games last week in Boise, Idaho, Owen Munroe did both his territory and country proud, winning a pair of bronze medals in cross-country skiing.
“It was warm down there and I really liked it,” said Munroe, 21, who was in Idaho for his first time. “We had to go up high to Sun Valley to ski.
“I was excited for the races Ã‰ It all went pretty good – no problems.”
Racing with Team Canada members from Newfoundland, Alberta and BC, Thursday, Munroe and his teammates took third in the one-kilometre freestyle relay event. He met his teammates in July while attending training camps in Toronto.
“They were really nice,” said Munroe.
In an extremely close finish in the one-kilometre freestyle race, he took third, finishing in 4:44.98, just 0.04 seconds behind Roman Soltys from the Ukraine.
Munroe almost made it a bronze hat trick, taking fourth in the three-kilometre classic with a time of 15:03, just 27 seconds behind third-place finisher Bosse Stark of Sweden.
“I tried my best and worked hard,” said Munroe. “I’m happy with fourth place.”
Winning medals is nothing new to Munroe. A year ago at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Quebec City, Munroe finished first in the five-kilometre classic. At the same event he finished fourth in the 2.5-kilometre classic. His success in Quebec landed him a spot on the national team.
“He was clearly prepared for these games – there’s no question,” said Serge Michaud, executive director of Special Olympics Yukon. “He was skiing four, five times a week leading up to the World’s.
“The organization is really proud. Here’s a guy who’s 21 years old and has won two bronze medals at the World Games out of thousands of athletes on the world stage.
“It seems like every time we send an athlete to World’s they come back with medals, and I think that shows a lot about our cross-country program and really all our programs in general.”
Competing at the last World Winter Games in 2005, Yukoner Garry Chaplin took home three medals.
More than just a winter sport enthusiast, Munroe hopes to join the Special Olympics Yukon team at the BC provincials in Abbotsford during the summer. With an eye on track and field, he has yet to choose which event he will focus on.
“I’m not sure, I’ll have to see,” said Munroe.
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