Don’t forget from Sochi: Canadian speedskater Gilmore Junio, a real team player
Every now and then, Olympic Talk will look back at athletes and/or stories who were memorable, even if they didn’t end up earning medals. As it turns out, some of the best stories don’t come with gold, silver or bronze.
Canadian speedskater Gilmore Junio had already finished with a Top-10 result in the men’s 500m at the Sochi Olympics, and was slated to compete again in the 1000m on Feb. 12.
Junio was one of the four Canadian skaters that had qualified at that distance, but notably absent from that group was Denny Morrison, a two-time world champ in the 1500m that was no slouch in the 1000m, either.
Morrison had failed to qualify in the 1000m when he fell in that event during the Canadian trials in December.
But in a gracious gesture, Junio gave his spot for the Sochi 1000m to Morrison, the first alternate for Canada at that distance.
He did it because he thought Morrison would give their country the best chance in the event, calling him “a consistent medal threat in the distance.”
When it came time for the race, Morrison would reward his teammate’s faith in him with a silver medal finish - just .04 of a second behind gold medal winner Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands.
“I was breathing hard, I have lost my voice and I am so pleased for him,” Junio said immediately following the event per Reuters.
As for Morrison, he pushed for Junio to become Canada’s flagbearer for tonight’s Closing Ceremony, saying that he “embodies what it means to be a Canadian Olympian.”
Junio ultimately didn’t get the nod, which went instead to women’s bobsled gold medalists Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse.
But he could get something else.
Toronto-based design firm Jacknife Design is now trying to raise $7,000 CDN on Indiegogo that will go toward the creation of a special medal for Junio.
It would be comprised of three primary materials - maplewood to represent the people of Canada, silver to represent the 1000m medal Morrison won, and gold to represent the country’s gratitude toward Junio.
“Junio’s ability to put his own lifelong dream aside to give another athlete a shot, set an example for not only Canada but people all over the world,” Jacknife creative director Michael Richardson said to the CBC.
“The way he put the pride of the country ahead of his own personal aspirations made my head spin and left me truly inspired. We had to do something to recognize this true Canadian hero.”
Let’s hope Canadians can give one of their own the recognition he deserves.