He hasn’t even left for the World Winter Games, and Whitehorse’s Michael Sumner already has a medal.
The day before leaving for the world championships, the Special Olympics Yukon athlete was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Yukon MP Ryan Leef at Leef’s office on Wednesday.
“I was so excited because Ryan Leef gave it to me,” said Sumner. “I was thinking, ‘why am I here?’ I barely come here. I barely come to his office.”
“Michael Sumner is a remarkable young man,” said Leef in a media release. “I can’t think of a better ambassador for the Yukon.
“He is an inspiration to all athletes by maintaining a well-rounded focus on athletic and academic development. His contributions are outstanding and this honour is well-deserved.”
Sumner, 16, is one of 15 figure skaters who will represent Canada at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, Korea, beginning next week.
It was announced last April Sumner would be on Team Canada following a gold medal-winning performance at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games the previous month in St. Albert, Alta.
“It’s amazing. I’m very, very, very proud of him,” said Sumner’s mom Debbie. “He’s had to work really hard and had to give up stuff like video games and hanging out with buddies. But it’s been great for him: it’s really given him focus and, of course, self esteem.
“Plus all of his Special Olympics teammates have been so supportive.”
Michael’s is the 10th trip to the world championship by a Special Olympics Yukon athlete. He is the second figure skater and the first male figure skater to go from the Yukon. Yukon’s Katharine Hall competed in figure skating at the worlds in 1993.
Michael qualified for the Canada Winter Games by winning silver at the B.C. provincial championships in 2011.
“He’s so enthusiastic, he tries so hard and he does such a great job at trying the best that he can,” said Michael’s coach Tanya Sage. “He’s really fun to work with and I’ve enjoyed every second working with him.
“He does a great job, he does everything we ask him to, and he has a little bit of attitude, which is great.”
Michael left Thursday morning to join his Canadian teammates in Vancouver after a public performance at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse Wednesday evening.
Team Canada consists of 141 athletes, coaches and support staff.
“I think I’m going to be excited and a little bit nervous because there are so many people in the crowd,” said Michael of the worlds. “I’m feeling magnificent.
“Thank you very much everybody for supporting me,” he added.
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