August 6-21, 2022
Meridian Credit Union fr

8/10/22

by: Bernie Puchalski, BP Sports Niagara

Emily Skulj-Thompson enjoying experience at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games

Emily Skulj-Thompson is having the time of her life at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.

“I am enjoying making new friends from across the country and getting to know them,” the 19-year-old Thorold native said. “It has been a great experience for me.”

She had a blast at the Opening Ceremony Saturday night at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.

“It was amazing, I really liked it.”

Her favourite part was the performance by country singer Tim Hicks.

Skulj-Thompson has been busy Monday and Tuesday competing in the Special Olympics swimming competition at the Games and hasn’t had the opportunity yet to do too many of the activities available at the Athletes’ Village at Brock University.

“I am hoping to get a chance to try some things this week.”

She is enjoying the food that is available to the athletes.

“I really like the hamburgers and pasta.”

Skulj is thrilled to be able to compete in the Canada Games close to home and lots of family members and friends are cheering her on.

“Most of them are watching it on-line and my mom (Carol-Ann Skulj) and twin brother Kyle came to watch me. I saw my brother in a bucket hat so I knew it was him.”

She finished seventh in the final of the 50-metre breaststroke on Monday and is also competing in the 50 metre freestyle, 100-metre freestyle, 100-metre backstroke and 100-metre breaststroke.

She trains twice a week with the St Catharines Otters Swim Team at the Kiwanis Aquatic Centre in St. Catharines.

“I’m not sure what motivates me but I love to swim,” she said. “I love getting in the water and competing.”

Skulj-Thompson is hoping to one day qualify for the Special Olympics world championships and her personal motivator has been Brock swimmer Anthony Gunn, who also coaches Special Olympics.

“He is a great coach and we have a good bond.”

She started swimming when she was a baby and took survival swimming style swimming lessons when she was six. She has been competing in Special Olympics since she was eight. Her specialties are the 100- and 200-metre breaststroke. In 2018, Skulj won provincial titles in the 25-, 50- and 100-metre breaststroke and 50- and 100-metre freestyle. She also won silver and bronze at nationals that year.

Team Ontario coach Sarah McNeil is happy to have Skulj representing the province.

“She is very dedicated and she has been swimming for quite a while. I have seen her at national and provincial championships and she swims consistently.”

Ontario has five athletes competing in the Special Olympics swimming competition. They were selected for the Games based on their performance at previous meets and the results from a selection meet back in April. The swimmers with the highest number of points were chosen for the Canada Games.

“They had to do well in that selection meet to qualify to come here,” McNeil said.

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