Students at Ecole Holy Name School in Calgary had just learned how to speedskate when they were paid a surprise visit by two of Canada’s fastest men on blades.
Gilmore Junio and Denny Morrison stopped by the school to talk about their experiences in the sport with the hopes of inspiring kids to work together and dream big.
“I hope that me and Gilmore shared a message of teamwork and of working hard to achieve your goals,” said Morrison, who is a four-time Olympic medallist and 11-time World Championship medallist.
“You can achieve individual goals while working well as a team.
“Being a good teammate will actually help you and everyone achieve all the goals you want to achieve in your life,” he said.
Though they compete almost always as individuals, the pair was intrinsically linked in 2014 when Junio gave up his Olympic start to Morrison, who then went on to capture silver in the men’s 1000-metre race in Sochi, Russia.
“Hopefully we’re good examples of what teamwork can accomplish and what believing in your dreams can accomplish,” said Junio, who was born and raised in Calgary.
It’s the exact message teachers were hoping their students would receive.
“This is somebody that used to be a kid just like me,” said Grade 6 teacher Victoria Hoddinott of her kids’ perception of Morrison and Junio.
“So it really is something like, ‘Hey, actually, maybe one day that could be me and maybe I should apply those strategies of… the teamwork and perseverance and pushing through, and I could be at the Olympics one day.'”
Grade 6 student Sarah Ukrainatz is a free-style skier. She admitted she was disappointed Calgary had lost its Olympic bid but said the visit from Junio and Morrison has inspired her to keep working toward her own Olympic dream.
“It was so good… It’s so cool to meet Olympians,” she said.
For Junio, who will be competing at next month’s 2020 ISU World Cup in Calgary, sharing his experience helps provide all the inspiration he needs to keep working hard to improve.
“I just love seeing the look on the kids’ faces… when we do these events,” he said. “The smiles, the questions, the excitement that comes through the room… it gets me pumped up to speed skate and try to accomplish more.”
WATCH (Oct. 11, 2018): Two-time Olympian Gilmore Junio joins Global News Morning Calgary with details on the new 5to8 campaign aimed at helping our next generation of Olympians.