NORTH Vancouver's John Charles Cain scored some huge results at the World Dwarf Games held in East Lansing, Mich., last month, winning three gold medals in track and field and a fourth medal in floor hockey.
Cain, a 17-year-old entering his Grade 12 year at Sutherland secondary, won the open men's Upper Class 3 discus, javelin and shot put while also helping the floor hockey team to a second-place finish behind the host United States team.
"It was really fun, it was awesome," Cain told the North Shore News after returning home, adding that it made him feel very proud to be wrapped in the Maple Leaf flag as he took his place on the top step of the podium.
The track and field competition was divided into classes 1, 2 and 3 based on arm and leg length with one being the shortest and three the longest. Cain, who has a form of dwarfism known as hypochondroplasia, is a three in both measurements, and at four-foot-10 he is right at the top of the standard height definition for dwarfism.
"He was actually one of the tallest dwarfs there, which sometimes is an advantage and sometimes is a disadvantage," said his mom Dawn who made the trip to Michigan to cheer on her son.
Cain scored a javelin throw of 20.94 metres, a six-kilogram shot put of 6.34 m and a discus throw, his favourite event, of 19.29 m. The young athlete was turned on to the Dwarf Games through connections with the Little People of America organization. After picking track and field as his preferred sport, Cain spent the past year training on his own or with his Little People mentor, practising his throws every week at nearby Ridgeway elementary.
When he joined the team of 25 Canadians heading to the Games he realized he could add another event to his schedule by joining the floor hockey team.
"I used to play hockey when I was younger," he said. "My mom was like, 'hey, you wanna sign up for floor hockey?' I was like, 'OK, sure.'" Mom says the team was happy to have him.
"He was invited to play on the men's floor hockey team because of his size. The team knew that John Charles has experience with hockey."
The best part of the event, however, was meeting other short stature people from around the world, said Cain. More than 400 athletes from 24 countries took part in the games.
"It was really different (to see people) from other countries, the cultures," he said.
"It was fascinating to see teams from India and Great Britain and Norway and France and Ireland," added Dawn. "Australia brought a huge contingency."
The Games themselves will move to Australia for the next edition in 2017 and Cain is keen to make an appearance and defend his medals.
"I'm already doing some stuff," he said.
Dawn is hoping her son's story and the Games in general will help other dwarfs feel positive about their stature and their ability to play sports.
"It was wonderful to see so many ages competing and so many disabilities. The level of competition was incredible. Everybody came to win and compete, it was an amazing thing to watch and be a part of."
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