Thomas McHugh is crossing his fingers that he will get to represent Canada in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
The track and field athlete from Quesnel ran a personal best time of 33.94 seconds in the 200-metre dash to win a silver medal at the National Games in Antigonish this month (July 31- Aug 4), but will have to wait a few more weeks before finding out whether he will get to travel to Abu Dhabi in March.
He got a little taste of what competing in the heat feels like during his time in Nova Scotia.
“I’m not used to the humidity, so I was sweating,” he says of the sauna-like conditions in the host city.
“You got out of the shower and right after you dried off, you’d already be wet again.”
McHugh made the most of his time out there however, getting in some pre-training before the meet and trying out some of the local cuisine.
“We had a mussel bake out at the Crystal Cliff, which was really fun,” he says.
“I had three helpings of mussels. It was my first time eating them and I didn’t think I’d like them, but I did! They were delicious.”
He did not fly all the way across the country just to eat shellfish however. McHugh wanted to put all his training to the test and take a shot at winning some hardware.
In the finals of the 200-metre dash he was able to do just that. McHugh didn’t have his best start, but was able to turn on the burners and power himself to the finish line in second place.
“I was about two or three metres behind the first-place guy,” McHugh recalls.
“I tried to catch up but he was too fast. He got a lead and it was tough to catch him but I was way out in front of the third place by a lot.
“It was us two up front and a crowd behind us.”
While his 200-metre dash was his proudest moment, McHugh also fared well in the 400-metre dash and shot put, setting personal bests in those events too.
He credits his coaches Tim Norton and Randy James for pushing him to succeed, and his personal trainers Mackenzie Lowe and Rod Terry for getting him in tip-top shape.
The future is bright for McHugh and he is intent on keeping the ball rolling.
“[The meet] gave me inspiration to train harder,” he says.
“I’m taking this week off and then getting back to training next week.”