Whitehorse Daily Star

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GOLD MEDAL FORM – Yukon rhythmic gymnast Aimee Lien won five medals in Antigonish, N.S. Photos courtesy SPECIAL OLYMPICS YUKON

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PUSHING HARD – Kevin Spofford, centre, won two bronze in the pool at the Special Olympics 2018 Canada Summer Games. Photos courtesy SPECIAL OLYMPICS YUKON

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SOCCER SUCCESS – Yukon’s Duncan McRae moves in to play the ball while teammate Stefan Oettli watches. The soccer team won silver.Photos courtesy SPECIAL OLYMPICS YUKON

Team Yukon returns home with hardware

Team Yukon has left its mark in Antigonish, N.S.

By Chuck Tobin on August 6, 2018

Team Yukon has left its mark in Antigonish, N.S.

The athletes came home last night with a total of 12 medals from the Special Olympics 2018 Canada Summer Games.

“Given the heat for those guys, to do as well as they did, and there were a lot of personal bests, it was just exceptional,” CEO Serge Michaud of Special Olympics Yukon said in an interview this morning.

Through the four days of competition that ended Saturday, temperatures were in the 30s, it was humid and the air was thick.

“Those guys are just not used to that,” Michaud said. “For them to persevere through that was just amazing. They just constantly overcame the odds.”

Michaud said chef de mission Brittanie Deal-Porter and her mission staff, along with the eight coaches, did a superb job of making sure the athletes were prepared for competing in the heat.

Premier Sandy Silver, who is originally from Antigonish, attended Friday evening’s lobster dinner put on by Sport Minister John Streicker for the team and the 65 fans who travelled from here to cheer on the 20 athletes.

He was at Saturday’s gold medal soccer match against Prince Edward Island, though the Yukon lost 5-1 but still came home with silver.

The soccer team has never come home from the nationals without a medal, Michaud pointed out.

Aimee Lien, the Yukon’s lone rhythmic gymnast, won five medals: two silver, two gold and a silver overall.

Distance runner Darby McIntyre won a bronze in the 3,000-metre. Jessica Pruden won a silver in the running long jump. Swimmer Ernest Chua won gold in the 50-metre freestyle race while teammate Kevin Spofford won two bronze in the pool.

Chua and Spofford also teamed up with two swimmers from the N.W.T. to win bronze in the 4 X 25 relay.

And Taylor Pooyatak-Amundson was literally millimetres away from bronze in bocce when she lost 12-11 in the last end.

Michaud said the athletes were proud to be representing the territory, and the rest of Canada knew the Yukon was there because they had the loudest cheering section – all the time.

Streicker was cheering so loud he lost his voice.

The premier mentioned at the dinner how proud he was to have so many Yukoners in his hometown, he said.

For the athletes, said Michaud, it was a long road to the Summer Games, training regularly all winter.

He said in the last six weeks leading up to Antigonish, they were getting a little tired and anxious for the Games to arrive.

“Once you put them on the field of play, it was great to watch.”

Michaud said you couldn’t pull the athletes off the dance floor at Saturday’s farewell bash.

“I always say you’ve never been to a dance unless you’ve been to a Special Olympic dance,” he said.

Michaud said as proud as they were to represent the territory, they are just as proud to return to their regular jobs today, because they take pride in contributing to their community.

The chief executive officer emphasized how the Special Olympic program, the trip to the Summer Games, would not have happened without the continuing sponsorship and financial support from the local Urban Realty Group, and the Yukon and federal governments.

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