Watching all of the teams come into the arena, Marilyn and Jim McCarthy of Pictou couldn’t believe the electric excitement in the air and the pride that every athlete beamed by representing their country.
Held every four years like the Olympics that we are all so familiar with, the International Dwarf Games showcases the best of the best in their categories and give athletes an opportunity to compete.
Elizabeth Duff, originally from Pictou, was one of those athletes that beamed with pride as she represented Team Canada during the games held at the University of Guelph in Ontario this year. She is the 15 year old daughter of former Pictou residents, Rick and Dianne Duff who now reside in Fox Creek, AB. She was born with a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia.
“For practice she’s the only little person in the town that she’s in,” said Jim, Duff’s grandfather. Duff spent lots of time training hard to compete, sometimes having to travel hours away to reach facilities in which to train.
“This was her first time competing in a competition with people that didn’t tower over her,” he said.
More than 400 athletes from 19 countries gathered in Guelph for the games. Athletes ranged in age from 6 to 60+ years old. Elizabeth competed as part of Team Canada in the Jr. B division (12-15 year olds).
“It was totally awesome to see it,” said Marilyn who, along with Jim, travelled to Ontario to root for their granddaughter.
Usually an athletic person anyway, Duff showed the international stage what she had during the games by competing in soccer, discus, javelin, shot put, track, boccia, basketball, volleyball and swimming.
Both of her grandparents added that there was a wonderful sense of camaraderie and friendliness at the games that they saw between teams and individual players.
“They were still friendly, it didn’t matter if they won or lost,” said Jim. Duff shared the same sentiment in a letter she wrote about the games.
“I remember walking into the event centre and seeing the first little people that I’ve seen in years. Within seconds I had someone else from Team Canada come up to me to chat. She asked if this was my first games, and it was,” Duff said.
Not only did Duff compete in a lot of categories, but she excelled.
By the end of the games, she walked away with 11 medals: four gold medals in javelin, shot put, 4×25 metre freestyle relay swimming and soccer; three silver medals in 25 m back crawl swimming, basketball and volleyball; as well as four bronze medals in the 100m sprint, 100m freestyle swimming, discus and boccia with Team Canada.
“You never know what it is like competing against people your own height. Let me tell you, it is the greatest feeling in the world. I’m always competing against people a foot taller than me, at least, but competing there gave me the opportunity to do such a thing,” Duff said.
Jim and Elizabeth McCarthy of Pictou with their granddaughter, Elizabeth Duff. (Submitted photo)