Sheryl Jakubowski and Mykaela Stewart represented the Fort St. John at the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, from August 1 to 4, making their community proud.
Jakubowski won gold medals in the 400m and 5,000m races, and bronze in the 10,000m. Stewart won a silver and bronze in rhythmic gymnastics with Team B.C.
“It was so awesome and I’m very happy. It feels good to be a Canadian champ,” Jakubowski said.
Jakubowski has competed at the Canadian Winter Games twice, and at the 2013 PyeongChang Special Olympics World Championships in snow shoe racing, but never before at the summer games in athletics. She said this was the best she’s ever done.
Stewart moved to Mission, B.C., with her family prior to the Summer Games, but was still a member of the Fort St. John team for this competition. Jakubowski said watching Stewart compete with her parents, and having them cheer for her while she raced, was very special.
While Jakubowski is known as being a strong long distance runner, she never thought she had a chance to win the 400m.
“It was very windy and hot out, and I was winded. I can’t believe I won, and my coaches were so proud of me and said, ‘Where did that come from?’” Jakubowski said.
Jakubowski likes to tell a story of how she outran a moose that was chasing her in 2013. During the 5,000m race, she said she knew people were catching up to her but she told herself, “I didn’t let that moose catch me then and they won’t catch me now.”
Jakubowski has one more dream left in Special Olympics — to compete at the 2019 World Championships in Abu Dhabi. She will find out in September if she made the team. Other than that, she plans to only compete at fun meets. She’s 49, and wants to be take care of her body. “I’m getting older and have aches and pains. It takes more work now to stretch and be in good shape,” she said.
Athletes are selected for the World Championships based on the points and medals they’ve won, as well as how well they display good sportsmanship.
“My coaches and mission staff said I displayed great sportsmanship. I’m one of the only seniors on the team and I make sure I help my younger teammates and show them what you can do,” Jakubowski said.
Jakubowski said the best part of the week was when she called her husband, Claude Renaud, and told him she was a champion. “He was so happy and proud of me,” she said.
Jakubowski has been going around town showing friends her medals and thanking them for their support.
“It means so much that people support me. I’m a champion for Fort St. John,” Jakubowski said.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.