Special Olympians steal hearts in Canada Winter Games
RED DEER– His program finished, Jeff Leung remains seated in the kiss and cry at these Canada Winter Games, a broad smile beaming across his face.
He isn’t going anywhere for a while.
Moments earlier, Leung, a Special Olympics athletes from Team B.C., had skated off the ice to a rousing ovation, absorbing the cheers with his arms raised to the heavens in triumph.
Now, it’s time for Leung to do the cheering. As Team Ontario’s Michael Raytchev performs his program, Leung stays in his spot, clapping his hands above his head as his new friend completes each element. As B.C.’s Eric Pahima, the final skater, finishes his program, both Leung and Raytchev are waiting for him, arms outstretched.
The music stops, and the crowd heads for the exits inside the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre as the Zamboni begins resurfacing the ice, the day’s competition over.
The three friends stay in the kiss and cry, basking in a moment that is theirs alone, a dream realized, their own personal finish line crossed.
No one asks about medals. This moment, their moment, means so much more.