Sebastian Gylander brought the thunder to Thunder Bay for the Special Olympics national championships, returning home to Golden with four medals.
Gylander, a cross country skier, reached the podium in all four of his races, earning two golds, a silver and a bronze.
“I felt good racing, I felt really happy and excited,” said Gylander. “I trained a lot, skiing and weight lifting.”
Overall, Gylander earned gold in the 2.5 km classic ski and the 4x1km relay, silver in the five km classic ski and a bronze in the 2.5 km skate ski.
The silver medal, his first of the weekend, had him beat world champion Shane Stewart by eight seconds.
His strong performance over the weekend may have earned him a spot at the upcoming World Championships in a few months, but Gylander said he won’t know for sure for a few more months.
One thing that is certain is that Gylander has been wearing his medals with pride and said he may never take them off after his phenomenal weekend.
“I’m gonna wear them for as long as I can,” he said.
His gold medal from the 2.5km classic ski was his first gold medal, according to his mother, Donna Gylander.
She said the day he won he facetimed her in the morning to let her know that he was going to win.
“He told me, ‘mom, I’m gonna win today,’ and he went out there and he did,” she said. “He just knew, he had his sights set on it and he was determined to do it so he went out there and did.”
According to Donna, her son is a shy kid, but when he sets his mind to a race, his determination and power shine through.
“When he’s racing he’s just so focused, he’s trained hard since last June, he committed to a training plan and he did it,” she said.
“He’s inspiring to other athletes and he has enthusiasm for what he does and those are important qualities in a Special Olympian.”
Next up for Sebastian is a trip to the Canadian Nationals at the end of March. Unlike the Special Olympics, these nationals will be open to the general public according to Donna. She said it’s a good opportunity for him to push himself as an athlete.
“He’s still going to be training hard for the net few weeks before he goes to Vernon for the nationals,” said Donna. “I know he’s excited because he has a good shot at that.”
In addition to his winter sport training, Gylander has taken to the water to get better at swimming in preparation for the regional championships in May, where he hopes to qualify for nationals in swimming.