Jeremy Holwell, 15, from Nain, was the first athlete from Newfoundland and Labrador to win a medal at the 2017 #North American Indigenous Games. (Submitted) It was a great first day of competition for Newfoundland and Labrador athletes when they heard a 15-year-old from Nain was the province’s first athlete to win a medal.
Jeremy Holwell won bronze in the 3K cross-country final at the 2017 North American #Indigenous Games in Toronto on Monday.
Since his medal win, Holwell said he’s heard from a lot of people back home congratulating him.
"It’s all over Facebook," he said.
It was a tough run, with the Saskatchewan runner in front of him the whole way.
"I told myself that I wouldn’t lose the fella in front of me, the person in front, the first person. But later on, a kilometre and a half into the race, I noticed he’s gone. I’m second and he’s gone," Holwell said.
"I thought to myself, I just gotta keep fighting for second, and hopefully keep that second. But the fella from Colorado did a great job, pushed past his limits and I couldn’t help myself there because it was all I could do." Some of the athletes from Labrador hoist their flag at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto. (Facebook) Holwell said the other provincial athletes were pretty happy for him.
"They all congratulated me, they were pretty excited," he said.
"I felt proud, happy. Because I’m the only one from Labador that signed up for male [cross-country]." ‘They were so pumped’
There are about 150 people from this province in Toronto for the Games — 64 athletes from Labrador, and another 54 from Newfoundland.
Boas Mitsuk, a volleyball coach, said his team was also pretty excited when they found out the runner from Nain won a medal — and Holwell said that’s pretty cool, considering a lot of the players are older high school kids he runs against.
"Five boys from our volleyball team is from Nain and they got all excited, they were so pumped that the first medal come from a smaller community like Nain," said Mitsuk. "No one ever expected that."
There have been a few hiccups for the province’s athletes competing at the North American Indigenous Games — including a banner for the opening ceremonies that said Team Newfoundland, so the athletes had to pen in "and Labrador." A team banner said just Newfoundland, so someone used a Sharpie to pen in ‘and Labrador.’ (Jeremy Holwell/Facebook) Mitsuk’s players haven’t played as a team before — but they’ve played against each other plenty of times.
This is the first big competition for some of these athletes, he said, and it took some time to get used to the larger court space and different floor.
Despite that, Mitsuk said his team is ready and raring to go.
"During these games it’s very, I don’t know if it’s strict, but we don’t get to watch any other teams play or practice until the day of the competition. But each team could be different … you never know what team could come up with what."He said some of the athletes have been able to take in some sights, too, heading out to Canada’s Wonderland on a day off. And seeing Taboo, from The Black Eyed Peas, and A #Tribe Called Red perform at the opening ceremonies was a special treat."They’re all excited to play — they’re going into this tournament very confident in what their team is like."The North American Indigenous Games are being held in Toronto from July 16 through to July 23.With files from Labrador Morning
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