A young Métis athlete surprises herself with a double win at NAIG
- Darla Ponace | August 25, 2023
Thousands of Indigenous athletes from across Canada and the U.S. gathered in Halifax, to compete in the North American Indigenous games (NAIG) and Team Saskatchewan came out on top earning 175 medals.
Willow Fayant-Velychko, a member of the Métis Nation - Saskatchewan was one of the athletes who helped with the final medal count.
The 13-year-old competed in the U16 female rifling division and earned two medals.
No one was more pleased than Fayant-Velychko because when she competed in the Winter Games earlier this year, she didn’t do well at all.
She is a pistol shooter, and trains with an airsoft pistol.
But when she tried out for NAIG she didn’t know she would be shooting a 22 rifle.
Surprisingly, Fayant-Velychko excelled at tryouts and was selected to represent Saskatchewan at the international competition.
“I really just wanted to try it for the experience,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d get anything, but I kept shooting everything each time. I expected that I might get a bronze, but nothing more.”
Her steady hand and focus paid off.
Fayant-Velychko took home two gold medals in rifling.
“I felt really great about it and I felt really happy,” said Fayant-Velychko .
She says the experience at NAIG has helped her confidence, because she’s not as shy as she used to be.
Fayant-Velychko encourages other youth that want to get into a sport like hers or any other sport to just do it and, “to not give up too quickly if they fail, just keep trying, and continue on.”
She also gives her family credit for making it possible for her to compete. The travel costs and accommodations to Halifax for the week was not cheap.
Fayant-Velychko’s parents fundraised by making bannock sales, which her father described as, “very painful.”
However, the entire family is thankful for all the support they received from their community.