Iqaluit’s Akutaq Williamson Bathory was one of the first Nunavummiut gold medallists at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games, earning the top ulu for her run in the short-track speed skating 500m.
“I’m feeling so uplifted from all the support and love I’m getting from my family, friends, community and even from England, family from England,” said the 17-year-old, who competed in the Individual 2004 – 2008 Female category. “I feel so honoured to be representing Nunavut. This isn’t only a medal for me, it’s a medal for everyone that’s gotten me to where I am, so I feel absolutely amazing.”
She came out on top over Team NT’s Erika Pollard and Rebecca Messier.
“I was super nervous,” said Williamson Bathory. “The previous distance I had gotten disqualified, so I was nervous that would happen again. But my goal was to just get to the start, and just keep pushing forward. And my last corner I had almost slipped, so I was really nervous there, but I got right to the finish line and looked right at all my supporters on the side and it was amazing to see them all there for me.”
This is her second Arctic Winter Games – it would have been her third if not for the pandemic. Williamson Bathory has also competed in the Canada Games.
She said she has been enjoying the Games, and she lost her voice on opening ceremonies night from cheering so much.
“Arctic Winter Games is just an overall amazing experience for youth and children within the community to just come and watch these beautiful athletes perform and bring some inspiration back to our communities,” she said.
The youth was looking forward to her upcoming races in the week and gives a message of perseverance.
“I know Covid was a tough time, especially for sports, where it’s like you need to be in person,” she said. “It was difficult for me too to continue pushing, but to be here and to see what you can accomplish is absolutely amazing. Little steps add up to big things. I believe in you all.”
Nunavut starts taking home medals
Dene games and speed skating opened the medal results for Team Nunavut Jan. 30, with bronzes for Lloyd Willie in open male stick pull, Meliya Allain in girls short track speed skating 1000m and Igimaq Williamson Bathory in the boys competition.
The next day, Akutaq Williamson Bathory earned her gold in the 500m short track speed skate, while Lloyd Willie took another ulu home with gold in the open male snow snake. Horizon Willie also earned a bronze in the junior female snow snake.
On Feb. 1, the floodgates opened further, with Qajaaq Ittinuar taking home silver in the boys arm pull and Team Nunavut winning silver in both male and female Dene games.
As of press time, Team Nunavut’s U19 hockey squad was headed into semi-final play against Team Northwest Territories, whom they were tied in records with at 3-0-1 and had just beaten the evening before. Team Alberta North was also tied in that top heat, sitting at 3-0-1 as of Wednesday, Feb. 1
On the junior boys side, Team Nunavut was headed into semifinal play against Team Alberta North, whom they had beat 4-2 earlier in the tournament. Leading the U16 male division going into semifinals was Team NT with a 4-0 record, coming off a win over Team Nunavut 6-5 Wednesday, Feb. 1.
The women, on the other hand, were 0-4 after initial action, being outscored 36-5 in the process. Team Alberta North led their division with a 4-0 record.
Team Nunavut’s curling squads were taking some lumps, with both sitting at 0-4 after preliminary play.
Midway through the Games, Nunavut sat at nine medals in last, with Yukon leading the way at 80.