Yellowknife’s Josh Boudreau feels like he’s “carrying the Territories” on his back at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020.
The 19-year-old speed skater is the only athlete at the 2020 Games representing Special Olympics Northwest Territories. He was selected out of the Territorial Chapter’s four speed skaters.
“It feels like I’m carrying the whole Territories on my back - it’s pretty great,” Josh said about the responsibility. “It feels nice, and I guess there’s no pressure.”
Boudreau has been training hard for months – on and off the ice – in preparation for his first-ever National Games.
“It’s pretty nice actually being away from the NWT,” he said about the long trip to Thunder Bay, which included a seven-hour layover in Calgary. “I have lots of coaches, lots of people back at home cheering for me.”
He also added dozens of local fans to his cheer squad on Thursday, when Thunder Bay’s St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Elementary School students – who raised more than $1,000 to draft Boudreau –showed up to the Delaney Arena with colourful signs to cheer him on from the stands.
“It feels like I’m going to do well here, I guess,” Boudreau said as he took in his new crew of supporters.
When it comes to race time, though, he’s laser-focused. He doesn’t get excited or nervous, he just concentrates on the track.
“I want to be focused, I don’t want to be too overwhelmed,” he said. “I want to get Personal Bests and get medals.”
So far, he’s achieved those goals. On Thursday, he recorded a Personal Best in the 777m race, finishing in 01:33.54, earning a gold medal. On Friday he earned another gold in the 1000m race and a silver in the 333m.