The Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games came to a close on Aug. 4 in Antigonish, N.S. and Yukon athletes are bringing home a significant amount of hardware.
Yukon athletes won a total of 12 medals at the competition, including four in swimming, two in athletics, one in soccer and five in rhythmic gymnastics.
Serge Michaud, executive director for Special Olympics Yukon, said the team did quite well, describing it as “fantastic.”
“All the athletes persevered through the heat, and what I would call stiff competition, and did quite well,” said Michaud. “I think it was incredible. Any time our athletes go off, be it provincial games or national games … it truly is a celebration of sport for people with intellectual disabilities.”
Rhythmic gymnast Aimee Lien’s five medals — three silver and two gold — were the most by an individual on Team Yukon.
The soccer team’s silver medal made it four straight national games where Yukon has been on the podium. The team won bronze in 2006, silver in 2010 and gold in 2014.
“I don’t know how many soccer teams can talk about that kind of legacy,” said Michaud. “For them to consistently wind up not only playing for a medal but winning a medal, that’s amazing.”
Although the four Yukoners competing in bocce were kept off the podium, Michaud explained it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
“This year was the first year that at the national games it wasn’t a team competition — it was a single competition — so everyone is playing head to head,” said Michaud, explaining Yukon athletes quickly adapted to the new format.
Taylor Pooyatak-Amundson was the only Yukon bocce athlete to play for a medal, losing narrowly 12-11 in the bronze medal match after the final shot had to be re-measured twice.
She impressed during the games, Michaud said.
“She really persevered and it was great to see how far she’s come through training and through her dedication and commitment to the game and what she’s doing,” said Michaud.
Some of the athletes have already returned to the territory, but a number are taking time to explore eastern Canada and decompress.
“After you bust your tail for eight or nine months, three or four times a week, at training, it’s kind of nice to take a few days to sort of come back down to earth,” said Michaud. “What better way to do that than to visit Canada’s East Coast?”
The World Summer Games are in March of next year, because the host city, Abu Dhabi, is too hot for outdoor competition during the summer months.
Yukon athletes will next turn their attention to winter sports and the B.C. provincial games with the ultimate goal of the Canada 2020 Winter Games in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com