MARYSTOWN, N.L. – Lucas Antle’s participation in Special Olympics sporting events started pretty casually about four years ago.
“Mom mentioned it to me, and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, I’ll give it a try,” he told The Southern Gazette on June 6.
He now has 18 medals to his name and is heading to Antigonish, N.S. for the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games at the end of July as a member of Team Newfoundland and Labrador.
Antle, 23, will be competing in athletics – mini-javelin, shot put, standing long jump and the 100 and 200-metre races are his events. He has been training hard several times a week since he found out he made the team. It will be his first time competing nationally.
The Frenchman’s Cove resident, a member of the Marystown-based Burin Peninsula North Bears, qualified during last year’s provincial Special Olympics Summer Games in St. John’s.
He was more than a little surprised when his mother, Darlene Price, gave him the news back in February.
“I will be honest with you, I was only in there to have fun and stuff,” Antle said.
The training has been demanding, he acknowledged. Price added her son was unaccustomed to keeping a schedule.
Price said Antle, who has also competed in snowshoeing during the provincial Special Olympics Winter Games, had to warm up to the idea of going to the national event.
“He wasn’t sure what was involved, and the training aspect of it, so it all had to be explained to him a lot in order for him to make a decision, and so then he decided to see it through,” she said.
“Mother tried so hard to convince me to go. She had to work on me and she wouldn’t give up,” said Antle, who is also a big music fan and has been playing guitar for seven years – Blue Rodeo’s “Lost Together” and “Zombie” by the Cranberries are among his favourite songs to play.
After giving it some thought, Antle said the 200-metre race is the athletics event he likes most, as you can pace yourself early to gear up for a big finish.
“You only have to run a little bit and then when you gets a bit closer, then you starts giving it your all,” he said.
Though he can find training a little draining, Price said sports seem to come naturally for Antle, who was diagnosed with autism at age two. He can usually be found on his bike and regularly walks their neighbour’s dog, she said.
“So, he’s always exercising anyway. It seems to come second nature to him,” she said.
Price is proud of her son’s accomplishments to date and believes he can go further than nationals if he wants. Special Olympics has offered him an opportunity to see new places and meet new people, she said.
Next month’s trip will be his first visit to Nova Scotia, and Antle is both excited and a little anxious. He’s looking forward to perhaps some activities that might be planned for the athletes outside of competing.
As for his goal at the Games, he’s still keeping it casual.
“That’s my only thing right now, is to go up there and have some fun,” he said.