Austin Johnston of Abbotsford didn’t think he would win anything at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, let alone achieve three podium finishes.
The 19-year-old bowler earned two silver medals in the doubles and team events before taking gold in his respective singles division last Friday in Los Angeles.
“I was pretty happy [to] win silver, but would have liked to win gold,” said the ambitious Olympian following his doubles and team events.
His goal — and gold — was obtained the following day when he beat out the three other Canadian bowlers grouped in his division. Johnston tallied a score 38 points higher than Jake Huff of Okanagan Falls, B.C., who finished in second.
Athletes in every sport and event are grouped by age, gender, and ability in what the Olympics terms “divisioning,” which gives everyone a reasonable opportunity to win, thereby enhancing the Games’ competitiveness.
This was Johnston’s first World Games, and he said he was enjoying talking to friends and meeting new people.
He credits his family for much of his success, as they’re always there to support him. His mom, grandma and sister, were with Johnston in L.A., where the World Games took place from July 25 to Aug. 2.
In the doubles bowling category, Johnston partnered with Carlos Villafuerte of Alberta. The two faced off against Aruba in the finals on July 28, losing 811-774.
In the team category, Johnston partnered with Linda Renner, Karalyn Summer and Villafuerte. They lost to a fellow Canadian contingent in the finals.
Abbotsford’s Mike Palitti took part in the track and field event and picked up gold in the 4×400 relay. Tom Norton, the recipient of the 2015 Howard Carter Award, also attended the World Summer Games as one of six coaches for the track and field team. Local Chris Hamilton, along with coach Vince Astoria, and the Canadian soccer team finished in fourth place in the five-a-side event.
Team Canada was a force to be reckoned with, bringing home a record-breaking 144 medals (70 gold, 48 silver and 26 bronze) along with countless personal bests.