Ezekiel Liu: Experiencing the 2024 National Winter Games in Calgary

Ezekiel's Essay:

I went to Calgary for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games with Team Ontario athletes from Monday, February 26th to Friday, March 1st, 2024 to compete in Speed Skating. We got to Calgary by travelling on the West Jet airplane #651. We stayed at the athletes’ village, Sheraton Suites Hotel. My roommates were Kai Freeland and Stephen Graham and we were in Room #1024. 

The opening ceremony was on Tuesday, February 27th, 2024. I waited a long time for the ceremony to begin and I did the athlete march-in and waved to everybody. There were many performances: Fraggle Rock Puppet, First Nations Dance and the girls are ballet dancing and singing the Barbie song. The last part was the ceremony to light the Olympic Cauldron. The Mounties on the horses gave the torch to the athlete on the stage. They used the torch to light the fire in the cauldron. 

My competition days were from Wednesday, February 27th, to Friday, February 29th, 2024. We were competing at the Olympic Oval. The distances that I raced are 1500m, 500m, 777m and 333m. I did all those races, both heats and finals. Coach Laura gave me many instructions. She told me to stay low and skate my best. I felt happy and a little bit serious when I was racing. I raced well because I won 1 silver medal for 777m and 2 gold medals for 500m and 333m. And I got a Personal Best for my 333m race. After competition, we had medal ceremonies. I felt good about winning the medals and my heart was feeling full. 

Parents’ Perspective:

Special Olympics is one of God's greatest blessings to Ezekiel. We are first and foremost filled with gratitude and admiration for the Coaches, Games staff & volunteers who invested so much of their time into making the Winter Games a safe and positive experience. 

Several times, Coach Laura Woodall traveled from Belleville to Markham just to coach Ezekiel at Toronto and Markham Skating clubs. And all the coaches took great care of Ezekiel's medical needs the whole time he was with Team Ontario. 

Knowing he was in good hands made it easier for us to enjoy the Games as spectators. We were thrilled to watch our son compete at the Olympic Oval. It was what he had trained hard for, even under pandemic restrictions. Some of Ezekiel's friends, who train at the Oval, dropped by to show their support.

Just as exciting as cheering Ezekiel from the stands was seeing him independently traveling with the Team. This was the culmination of the “training” he underwent, one week each summer, at Muskoka Woods’ overnight camps. This highlight is very meaningful because Muskoka Woods agreed to sponsor Ezekiel on this Winter Games journey.

Being part of the Winter Games has helped Ezekiel grow up in many ways. He learned how to tie his skates, how to make good choices at mealtimes, and how to share a room with 2 roommates. As for us, we are all the more grateful to the community that loves and supports him. 

Ezekiel's Parents, 

Fiona Goy & Henry Liu