Medal satisfied Dugas’ hunger, in a couple of ways

Kenn Oliver
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West coast runner provided province’s lone podium finish of Games’ second week

By Kenn Oliver

The Telegram—Sherbrooke, Que.

After finishing third in the men’s Special Olympics 200-metre final on Friday — collecting Newfoundland and Labrador’s first medal of the second week of the Canada Summer Games, and just the province’s second medal overall in the Games — Chris Dugas said he has never felt so much pride.

“Getting a medal for my province is a big feat for me,” the 24-year-old resident of Kippens said.

 “I wanted to make them proud. It brings me a lot of joy. I feel like I’m top of the world.”

Dugas, first in his qualifying heat earlier in the week, ran a new personal best time of 26.19 seconds, and his coach,  Rosie Ryan-Forsey said his lane assignment had a lot to do with his result.

“He came out of the blocks very powerfully and it was very fortunate that he had one of the stronger entrants on his outside. That’s who he had his sight set on and by trying to stay with him, it allowed him to pick up the pace a little more,” she said.

“He came down the straight and had a fair lead over the fourth-place finisher. He wasn’t quite close enough to silver, but no doubt it was a very powerful, strong finish for Chris.”

Ryan-Forsey,  head of the Bay St. George Special Olympics Club where Dugas has trained for five years, added it was even more exciting considering how disappointed h he  was after finishing fourth in the 100m final the day before.

“He knew all eyes were on him and he was really hopping to do this,” she said. “

He was a little slow to start in his warm-up and I was a little nervous that I wasn’t going to get him high enough, but we got him there and by the time we got him into the marshalling tent, he was ready to go and excited about the race.”

Following the race, Dugas celebrated his win in a most unconventional way for a sprinter; by enjoying a couple of well deserved hamburgers.

“It’s been a tradition since I did it in 2009 in Prince Edward Island, so after that, it’s become something to look forward to, having a cheeseburger,” Dugas said with a mile-wide smile.

“I know it’s not healthy, but it’s a motivational tool.”

Ryan-Forsey said, just like other athletes, that proper nutrition is important, but in Dugas’ case, she’ll let it slide in certain circumstances.

“Every trip we make to St. John’s, when all the competitions are over, it’s the only time I’ll relent and let him have that burger.

“He was pretty excited at the finish line, I told the boys at the mission staff that it was probably more important to him than his medal was.”

Dugas, Stephenville’s athlete of the year for 2012, will add his bronze medal to a collection of hardware from national and provincial Special Olympics Games, both summer and winter.

A most meaningful medal

However, Ryan-Forsey said this one will be a little more meaningful, considering the stage on which it was one.

“I think it’s more special that he’s here as part of Team NL with 30 other (track and field) athletes,” she said.

“He’s all about Team NL and doing it for the people as opposed to doing it for himself.”

If Dugas continues to compete in Special Olympics events, it’s almost a given he’ll be back at the Canada Summer Games in 2017, but Ryan-Forsey hopes he’ll be part of the province’s contingent heading to the Special Olympics National Summer Games in British Columbia next year.

“Our athletes have to be able to be totally independent and not a worry behaviorally to take him out there. He’s certainly proven himself on his last number of road trips. I’m pretty sure he’ll be on that list of names when they’re announced.”

There, it’s likely that Dugas, in addition to the 100m and 200m, he’ll also run the 400m and compete in the shot put.

“It’s not just about the medals,” Dugas added. “It’s about performing to your limits and I hope to do more.”

And so does the province.

koliver@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telykenn

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island British Columbia

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  • Jackie Barrett - Special Olympian
    August 19, 2013 - 15:48

    Not only does Chris Dugas have a great chance of representing Newfoundland and Labrador at the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver, but due to his considerable improvement over a four year period, he could be in contention for a spot on Team Canada for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles if he does well next year in Vancouver. Even if Chris is selected to compete at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athletics, he will still be eligible to compete at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Athletics. Unlike Swimming were athletes with international level experience are Canada Games ineligible, Special Olympians whom previously competed at the Special Olympics World Games in Athletics are still Canada Games eligible in that sport as long as he/she is under age 30 and doesn't receive Sport Canada funding.