Four Labrador West Olympians who recently participated in the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Special Olympics returned home with six medals, improved performances and memories that will last a lifetime.
Cross-country skier Jody Lawrence won the gold in the 2.5-kilometre race and the 500-meter competition. He also took the silver in the 5K race.
His coach, and mother, Rhonda Lawrence said she told the athletes to enjoy themselves and do their best. This was the first time members of the Labrador West Big Landers attended the competition and the athletes had nothing to compare the experience to, so their coaches were clear: placement wasn’t the most important thing. Instead, it was all about the experience and making friends.
Jody Lawrence says he was over the moon when he realized how well he had done at the event, but also enjoyed the fun and friendship that was so pervasive at the competition. But, he says, even though the emphasis is on friendship, there is a certain level of competition as well.
At 10, Colin Rumbolt was one of the youngest competitors, but he came through with two medals: a silver in the 500 meter cross-country skiing and a bronze in the 2.5-km event. His coach says he has a bright future in skiing.
Rhonda Lawrence said everybody supported and helped each other, making the event more like a friendship game.
Snowshoe coach Joan Hibbs said seeing the reaction of the athletes as they finished the event they had trained so hard for was an amazing experience. Seeing their faces and hearing the pride in their voices made it all worthwhile, she added.
In snowshoeing, Junior Dumaresque won the gold in the 200-meter event in his division. In his 200 meter event, Christopher Gillam just missed the bronze, placing a respectable fourth.
The chairman of the Labrador West Special Olympics group, Junior Humphries, says it was hard to explain how he felt and how emotional it was to see these people who worked hard, and advanced in the last while.
"We give big thanks to the volunteers, coaches, families and the communities that support them. To see how happy their achievement make them is worth all the effort," said Humphries.
The group meets weekly and can accommodate people of all levels of abilities. Humphries says the recent showing will be a big boost to the Labrador West Big Landers.
Jody Lawrence and Christopher Gilliam will now move on to compete at the Labrador Winter games for Wabush. Word on which other participants will also take part is expected soon.