Thursday is the fourth day of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Halifax, and already Team NT has taken home its fair share of medals.
Twelve-year-old Kole Lizotte of Yellowknife took home the bronze for 14U 50-metre freestyle.
“I started to slow down once I went on my turn, but before that I was ahead by a good amount,” says Lizotte.
Sixteen-year-old Abygail McDonald won bronze in the 300-metre dash, despite suffering injuries in her first race. “I was so surprised when I made it to the finals; I didn’t feel like I was super fast,” she says. “And the girl that beat me in the first heat was in my final heat, and we were battling for third — we were neck-and-neck, and at the last bit, I saw my team, and I just pushed, and I beat her.”
Other medals for Team NT include bronze for the U14 male relay team, a silver medal in the U14 male 1,200-metre race, and a bronze medal in the U19 1,200-metre race.
N.W.T. athletes have succeeded despite the punishing Halifax heat and humidity: As of 2:00 p.m. MST on Thursday, it was about 24 degrees in the city with 83 per cent humidity. “It kind of helps: If I fall, I don’t skin my knees straight up, just slide a bit,” says Dante Kay-Grenier, who’s competing in badminton. “But other than that, oh man, you gotta bring a towel with you, you’ve got to take breaks every few points.”
Athletes aren’t the only ones enduring the heat in the quest for gold.
Jeff Watson is the NWT’s badminton coach. He says it was a challenge organizing athletes from across the territory and getting them on a training regimen. “It’s really difficult to do that across the North when you don’t have direct contact with athletes,” he says.
It was also a challenge substituting one of their players at the last minute: “Our original player had to drop out, which was a little bit of a challenge getting all that information and all that stuff in at the last minute. Other than that, it’s just been trying to have fun with everybody, making sure everybody is healthy, safe, and having a good time.”
The North American Indigenous Games run until this Sunday, July 23.
With files from Mariah Caruso.