Special Olympics snowshoer Tony Wilkinson continued his winning ways at last weekend’s Winter National Games in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Wilkinson earned a gold medal in the 100-metre, a silver medal in the 200-metre, a silver medal in the 400-metre and a gold medal in the 4x100-metre relay race.
Wilkinson was part of Special Olympics Team Canada that went to Austria in 2017 where he won a silver medal in the 100-metre race and a gold medal in the 4x100-metre relay.
“It is so amazing; it’s so awesome. I can’t believe this is happening and it’s real,” Wilkinson said after his latest medal haul. “I’m proud of my results; my training did pay off. It was also so great to see all of the familiar faces of athletes and coaches from all over Canada from Team Canada 2017.”
His father and the snowshoe team head coach David Wilkinson was almost overwhelmed.
“I was so proud of Tony as I know how hard he has worked to get here. And then to see him perform so well under the excitement and pressure of the finals and come home with medals is so rewarding,” he said.
The 100-metre final was extra special as his son, Ty, came to the snowshoe venue. Ty is an assistant snowshoe team coach and was also a Team BC Curling coach.
“Together, we watched Tony win a gold medal by 10 one-hundredths of a second. It was heart-pounding excitement followed by extreme joy. Priceless.”
All Team BC snowshoe athletes were so dedicated to their training, he said. “Seeing them all come through with personal best performances and all come home with medals was so rewarding as a coach. The team of 13 athletes won 25 medals in total.”
The Special Olympics snowshoe program in Kelowna is a family affair for the Wilkinson family.
“My wife Paola is also an assistant coach,” said the proud farther after a recent practice at Telemark Nordic Club in West Kelowna.
The team also has two other assistant coaches and their children as athletes: Steve Frost and his son, Garrison, and Margaret Dorosh and her son, Jon.
This year, there are 10 athletes in the program and the age range is from 16 up to 31 years of age.
There are seven veteran athletes who have been snowshoeing for five to 10-plus years combined with three new athletes.
The snowshoe team trains from January to March each year as part of the Special Olympics winter program.