The Special Olympics Summer World Games were in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from March 14 to 21 as more than 7,000 athletes from 190 delegations gathered to compete in 24 different sports.
Among those representing Canada at the games was the Yukon’s Ernest Chua, who finished swimming competition with two silver medals, a fourth-place finish and a fifth-place finish.
Chua’s silver medal in the 100-metre backstroke on March 15 was the first medal for Canada at the games.
No stranger to the international stage, Chua has previously competed for Canada at the 2017 Special Olympics Winter World Games in Austria where he won gold and silver in cross-country skiing and is now the first Special Olympics Yukon athlete to compete at both the winter and summer games.
Racing started for Chua on March 13 when he joined teammates Connor Scott Bissett, Roy Thomas Paynter and Gordon Robert James Newcombe Michie for the four by 50-metre medley relay preliminaries. The Canadians finished second in their heat with a combined time of two minutes and 32.91 seconds.
Chua found his way onto the podium just two days later in the men’s 100-metre backstroke final where he finished second – the first medal of the games for Canada.
Timotheos Vassiliou of Cyprus won the race with a time of one minute and 37.73 seconds. Chua was close behind, finishing in one minute and 47.26 seconds. Third place went to Alexis Dupont of France with a time of two minutes and 6.55 seconds.
In the men’s 200-m freestyle final, Chua finished fifth in a very tight race on March 17.
Jan Christiaan Kuiper of the Netherlands won gold after finishing in three minutes and 20.78 seconds, while Slovenian Alen Soster was just 0.06 seconds behind with a second-place time of three minutes and 20.84 seconds. Australian Jordan Mark Overs rounded out the podium in third place with a time of three minutes and 21.39 seconds. Chua’s time was three minutes and 23.81 seconds — 2.42 seconds off the podium and just 3.03 seconds away from winning.
After a day off, Chua was back in the pool for the men’s 100-m freestyle final on March 19.
Edgar Paul Denyer from the Isle of Man won the race in one minute and 27.01 seconds, with Monaco’s Nicolas Veran and South Africa’s Shaun Combrinck finished second and third with times of one minute and 28.04 seconds and one minute and 29.90 seconds respectively. Chua was fourth, finishing the race in one minute and 33.87 seconds.
Chua earned his second medal of the games on March 20 during the finals of the four by 50-m medley relay when he and his teammates finished second.
Sweden won the race in two minutes and 25.40 seconds, followed by the Canadians second in two minutes and 31.21 seconds and Israel third in two minutes and 48.45 seconds.
Canada finished the games with a total of 155 medals and 193 total top-five finishes.
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