CALGARY – Filipino Canadian Gilmore Junio qualified to be one of the speed skaters who will represent Canada for the 22nd Olympic Winter Games to be held in Sochi, Russia on February 6.
Junio finished 2nd in the men's 500-meter race and 3rd in the men's 1,000 meter race, winning over many of the best speed skaters across Canada.
He believes bagging the gold medal at the Speed Skating World Cup Championship last November at Salt Lake City, Utah prepared him for the tryouts.
"It was a really good confidence booster. It kind of proved that I could skate at the top level in the world. It was really great to get that win and get it out of the way," he said.
Junio grabbed his first World Cup Speed Skating Medals in 2012 in Nagano, Japan by winning 2nd place in the men's 500 and finishing 1st in the team sprint demonstration race with his teammates from Winnipeg and Regina.
Born and raised in Calgary, Junio displayed amazing talent and skill on the ice as he was already a competitive hockey player at age seven.
But after realizing he is a bit small for hockey, Junio and his parents decided to switch to speed skating, much to the delight of speed skating coaches in Calgary.
"When Gil first kind of switched over from hockey, one of the things that we noticed was just how much power that he has. So, even though he is a little guy, he's got what we call in the speed skating word, 'he is wired the right way'," said Junio's first coach Brock Miron.
Junio's parents attributed their son's success to his amazing work ethics and sheer determination to win.
Being the only Filipino in the team makes them prouder
"Well, of course, we are very proud of him. He deserves that because he works so hard and I think he really spends time, he really dedicates his time to this sport. So, I think he really deserves it and we are very proud of him," said his father, Gino.
His mother Julie added, "Well, we are proud to be Filipino. Because when you have that blood flowing into your veins, it's just nice to be a Filipino. We have that perseverance and that resilience".
In preparation for the Winter Olympics, Junio and his teammates are training hard six days a week.
Up to now, Junio can't believe that his dream to compete with the world's best at the Olympics has come true.
"It's pretty surreal. Growing up you know as a Filipino kid in Calgary, I never thought you know I'll be going up and going to the Olympics and representing Canada and the Filipino community. It's a great honor and I hope I can do everyone proud," he said.