Hard work of Special Olympics gold medallist leads to new title and new skills
Jesse Canney will receive award for male athlete of the year in Toronto on Nov. 14
Three-time gold medallist Jesse Canney can thank his hard work and determination for getting him to the top — but also for helping him develop new skills.
"Before, he wouldn't say anything, and now he's sort of broken through the communication barriers," said his mother, Pam Moxon.
"He initiates conversations and it's really hard for him … he doesn't always have the ability to form sentences. So he's really overcome a lot."
Canney, who's from Durham Bridge, has near-nonverbal autism. Earlier this week, it was announced that the 23-year-old was named male athlete of the year by Special Olympics Canada.
"I was really surprised," Moxon said. "I knew he had been nominated, but winning is a whole different thing."
In March, Canney won three gold medals and one silver in swimming at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Canney started taking private swimming lessons when he was seven. Four years later, he joined Special Olympics.
"His Special Olympics coach thought, 'Wow, he could develop into a competitive swimmer,'" Moxon said.
And now, he's done just that — but Canney's still humble.
"He's happy. He just smiles when you mention it," said Moxon.
Aside from swimming, Canney also enjoys basketball, track and field and bowling. He has even taken up playing tennis.
"It's been amazing," Moxon said. "We never dreamed he'd excel like this."
Canney will be receiving his award on Nov. 14 in Toronto.
With files from Shift New Brunswick