Track and Field Championships underway with young athletes from across Canada
OTTAWA, ON, 11 AUGUST, 2023 – Star athlete Michael Trauner is the first ever Games Ambassador at The Royal Canadian Legion’s National Youth Track and Field Championships this year in Sherbrooke, QC. Trauner exemplifies the power of sport and its ability to change lives. He plans to share his story and help inspire the young athletes.
“I believe that I’ve always been a role model, I just wear a different uniform these days. Instead of military CADPAT (clothing/gear) and combat boots, I’m sporting comfortable running shoes and t-shirts,” he says. “What excites me the most is looking towards the future and realizing that sports allow you to be as amazing as you choose to be.”
As a retired military Veteran, Trauner lost both his legs and endured related injuries while serving in Afghanistan – but this major life challenge did not daunt him. Instead, he faced the situation head on, medaling gold twice in indoor rowing at the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017. He has found continuing success at various canoeing and cycling competitions in Canada and abroad and is a 23-time medalist in paddling and cycling.
“Even though I compete as a para-athlete, some of my best training sessions and races are against able bodied athletes,” he says. He describes one great race: “My best race was against 90 other athletes and nobody knew that I had a disability until I accepted my medal that day. The medal was nice but even better was the fact that I was seen as a threat and worthy foe against the elite competitors,” he recounts.
This year’s Games are hosted by Université de Sherbrooke, Bishops university, and the city of Sherbrooke, with events at Université de Sherbrooke Stadium from August 11-13. Over 900 young athletes are competing in Canada’s only track and field competition for the under-16 and under-18 categories. The Legion Nationals originated with Legionnaires’ support and promotion of youth sports as a healthy activity to help children whose fathers or mothers were serving abroad or had served in the Armed Forces.
Trauner, who served in the Canadian Army, will be both mentoring and cheering on the athletes all the way. That includes sharing the importance of focusing on the “now,” and remembering a piece of advice he also taught himself: ‘Take small steps and set realistic goals.’
“Everyone wants to get to the Olympics, but there is a process that all athletes must follow to get there,” Trauner explains. “Patience is key.”
This year’s championships also commemorate the 75th anniversary of United Nations Peacekeeping, reflected in the design of this year’s winning medals. Many Legion alumni have gone on to compete at the international level including as part of the Commonwealth, Pan Am and Olympic games.
While winning medals is rewarding, Trauner says he’ll be advising young athletes that it’s about more than that, too. “A medal is just a moment in their athletic career,” he says. “How you present yourself as an athlete is what people remember the most and if you are a positive and dedicated athlete then the medals will come eventually on their own. Every loss will teach us as athletes how and where to improve.”
Trauner says there is always benefit in both the positive and negative experiences in any sporting career. Being this year’s Ambassador is one of the positives and is also allowing him to reflect upon his personal goals as well. Stay tuned!
Canadian cities host the Legion Nationals for two years, and the next city hosting the Games in 2024 and 2025 will be Calgary, Alberta.
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About The Royal Canadian Legion
Founded in 1925, the Legion is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization. We are a non-profit organization with a national reach across Canada as well as branches in the U.S., and in Europe. With more than 250,000 members, many of whom volunteer an extraordinary amount of time to their branches, our strength is in our numbers.
Public Relations & Media: PublicRelations@Legion.ca