Gilmore Junio didn’t just earn his first career World Cup victory this past weekend in Salt Lake City. The 23-year-old long track speed skater also earned our Athlete of the Week honours.
Junio’s World Cup breakthrough came in Friday’s opening 500m. His time of 34.258 seconds tied him with former world champion and 2010 Olympic bronze medallist Joji Kato of Japan to the thousandth of a second. Even the photo finish was unable to decide a winner, so both men received gold medals.
“I’m pretty through the roof right now,” said Speed Skating Canada‘s Junio in a statement. “It’s a really good confidence booster going into the Olympic trials and the Olympics.”
Junio’s previous personal best was 34.53, also recorded in Salt Lake City in January. He surpassed it rather impressively, by more than a quarter of a second. This is Junio’s second career World Cup medal. He won silver in the 500m in Nagano, Japan in December 2012. His podium performance also came on the heels of Jamie Gregg’s pair of 500m bronze medals last weekend in Calgary.
“The way our team is performing, especially our 500m guys, I think we have a really good chance to do something special at the Olympics,” said Junio. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Competition on the ISU World Cup circuit resumes in Astana, Kazakhstan on November 29 to December 1 before shifting to Berlin, Germany from December 6 to 8. Results at the four pre-Olympic World Cup stops will determine the number of quota places each country will have at Sochi 2014. There is a maximum of four spots available in each of the 500m, 1000m and 1500m, with three spots available in each of the 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m. The Canadians who fill those spots will be determined at the Olympic Selection Trials, December 28 to January 3 in Calgary.
Junio is aiming to make his Olympic debut in Sochi.
The son of Filipino immigrants is a kinesiology student at the University of Calgary who actually began his speed skating career in short track. His first major international meet on the big oval was the 2010 World Junior Championships where he finished fourth in the 500m, just a few months after making the switch to long track.