By Quay Evano
Calgary-born Gilmore Junio, the first Filipino-Canadian Speedskater is representing Canada once again in the Winter Olympics being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Gilmore Junio, who has won several speedskating medals since 2009, won the hearts of Canadians and other people around the world when he gave up his spot to his teammate Denny Morrison at the 1,000 metre race at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Morrison eventually won silver, which the two friends celebrated together as well the rest of Canada.
“Well, for the second time of course na he made it to the Canadian olympic team in speedskating, of course we are very proud of him and I’m sure the rest of the Filipinos here in Canada na proud rin sa kanya,” says Gilmore’s father Gino.
“Atsaka ang support ng mga kaibigan namin dito especially ang mga Filipino friends at Canadian friends, it’s amazing kasi siyempre kakilala nila ang Olympian and being knowing him personally it is really a big honor and you know we are so proud,” adds Julie, Gilmore’s mother.
According to Gilmore’s parents, to qualify for this year’s Winter Olympics was more difficult. Gino says that, in Sochi, Russia, there were five speed-skaters that made up Team Canada, but this year, there were only three spots on the team.
“The tryout this year for the Olympics was really stressful for the kids. Because there are five of them that are really, really good and anybody can win the race but two had to be out,” Gino explains.
Gilmore suffered some injuries last year and in the last half of the season of 2017, was left off Canada’s World Cup team because of a concussion. However, with renewed vigor, he found a new coach in Jeremy Wotherspoon, one of the greatest speedskaters in history and started training in Norway. His parents believe that there is a chance that with his new training and coach, he might just bring home a medal this time.
“For the World Cup this year, there’s nobody that really stands out who dominate speedskating, says Gino. “So I think the Canadian speedskating team has got good chances to get a medal and so does Gilmore. He was not training here, he was training in Norway, with Jeremy Witherspoon as his coach so just to change the environment and to motivate him again to push him as much as he can and get that motivation to get more better.”
Gilmore’s parents and other relatives and friends are going to South Korea to cheer for him during his events. For Gilmore’s parents, who don’t know how to skate, they say that it is so amazing what their son has achieved for himself, for Canada and for the Filipino community everywhere.
“And for him to come to that top level, international level, you know to be an elite skater in international level, that’s a very, very amazing achievement for him,” says Julie.
“Ang ano nga namin sa kanila is when they do something they have to do it yung to their full ability. Hindi kasi, alam mo, yung iba diyan pinupush nila ang anak nila. Sa amin, they have to show it. Kasi, ang sabi ko naman sa kanila eh, hindi naman nakukuha ang pera just like that eh. Kaya nga nagsasakripisyo tayo. And so this is the reason why noong pinakita niya sa amin ang kanyang ano, ang mga coaches, sabi nila na he got the ability, I was just so happy to be really able to explore their ability to skate better,” she adds.
Win or lose, Gilmore’s parents say that he is already a champion in their eyes because of the talent and sportsmanship he always displays on the ice.
Gino offers this advice for his son going into the games, “We are already proud of you to be an Olympian, two-time Olympian, and just do your best to be, a medal is just an icing on the cake but to be an Olympian, we are very, very proud of you already.”
As the first and only Filipino-Canadian speedskater in the Olympics, Junio’s parents and relatives hope that their son will get all the support from Filipinos and Canadians everywhere during the Olympics.