Yukoners going for gold at Special Olympics World Winter Games

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Yukoners going for gold at Special Olympics World Winter Games

Nobody could accuse Mike Sumner of lacking confidence. He's one of three Whitehorse athletes headed to the Special Olympics World Winter Games, in Austria next week.

"I think I'm going to get the gold! It's in my destiny. It's in my blood," he said, between practice sessions on the Canada Games Centre ice.

Sumner, 20, and fellow Yukoner Tijana McCarthy, 19, are part of Canada's 18-member figure skating team headed to the games. It'll be Sumner's second time at the games, and he has reason to be confident — he won a silver in South Korea in 2013.

"It's going to be a close one, between me and that Japanese guy that beat me last time. But I got this feeling," he said.

McCarthy has less experience on the ice than Sumner. She's only been skating for about five years (compared to 10 for Sumner), and this will be her first time the world games.

She says she's pretty happy to be going to Austria ("awesome", she said), and is less focussed on winning a medal. She says her main goal is to "meet new friends."

Personal best

The third Yukon athlete going to the games, 26-year-old Ernest Chua, will be hitting the ski trails instead of the ice.

He only started skiing about four years ago but his mother, Shirley Chua-Tan, says he's been dedicated and enthusiastic. He's been practicing five days a week to prepare for the games.

"If he can do Yukon proud by bringing a medal back, that would be awesome," she said. "But I think to have fun, to do his personal best, is all that he would try — and I know he will try very hard."

Chua-Tan won't be going along to Austria, but she's excited to follow the games online. She's also going to try not to be too much of a worrying mom.

"We're all just so happy for him," she said. "He knows what is going on and he is very proud. 

"Just like any parent, as long as our kids are doing well, we are happy."

The Special Olympics World Winter Games run March 14 to 25.