Special Olympic gold medalist Maxtin Lengyel was greeted with cheers, hugs and high fives on Sunday as he returned home to Ucluelet from the Canada Summer Games.
Lengyel, Ucluelet’s first Special Olympian to compete at the national event, charged his way to a gold medal in the 200-metre race and also earned a silver medal as part of Team B.C.’s 4x100 relay team.
The Games were held in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, from July 31 to Aug. 4. Lengyel returned home with his family on Aug. 12 and was surprised by a police escort, which met him at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction, and drove him to a welcoming ceremony the town had organized in his honour.
“Maxtin is a bit of a local legend. I’ve known him for the last six years and he’s a pretty awesome kid,” Const. Marcel Midlane, who drove Lengyel to the welcoming event, told the Westerly News. “I couldn’t be prouder of Maxtin he’s worked really hard to go out and compete…Congratulations Maxtin. You’ve done yourself proud, you’ve done your family proud and you’ve done your community proud.”
During the celebration, municipal councillor Sally Mole read a letter from mayor Dianne St. Jacques, who was unable to attend.
“It is with great honour and happiness that I extend our most heartfelt congratulations to you for your achievement and successes at this year’s Games,” Mole read. “Your hard work…and dedication to countless hours of training is both inspirational and commendable. On behalf of council and the District of Ucluelet, we are so proud of you.”
Mole told the Westerly that she was delighted to see such a large contingent of the community show up to cheer Lengyel home.
“It was an amazing community event,” she said. “It was just lovely. Everyone had huge smiles on and goosebumps and a little tears in there as well. It was great.”
Lengyel told the Westerly that the outpouring of community was “awesome.”
“I didn’t think they would be doing this for me,” he said. “I’m excited and very happy…Thank you West Coast for welcoming me back. Thank you very much.”
Lengyel’s mother Jacqueline Holliday was overwhelmed with emotion after seeing the community come together to celebrate her son.
“This was absolutely, truly, overwhelming. Max is so happy. You just cannot wipe the grin off his face,” she said. “I want to thank everybody for your support and your continued support for Maxtin…Thank you so much for everything and making this such a special experience for Max.”