Nunavut teen with dwarfism trained for World Dwarf Games with rocks and a harpoon

Zoe Elverum says it’s sometimes hard being the only “little person” in town.

'I want to represent Nunavut, and be like, you know what? Anyone can do this,' says Zoe Elverum

Zoe Elverum joined Team Canada at the 2017 World Dwarf Games in Guelph, Ont., where she won a gold medal for floor hockey, and silver for volleyball. (Submitted by Zoe Elverum)

Zoe Elverum says it's sometimes hard being the only "little person" in town.

Especially as a teen who loves sports.

The 14-year-old was born in Pond Inlet, Nunavut — a community of around 1,600 people — with a medical condition called dwarfism, or short stature.

"In my community, there are no other people with dwarfism," said Elverum.

And although she says life is "awesome" because everyone knows her story, it's difficult when it comes to sports.  

Elverum says she used a harpoon to train for the javelin throw, a track and field event. (Submitted by Zoe Elverum)

"It's hard when you're the only little person, and you have neck problems and you can't play some of the sports," Elverum said. 

So it was a treat for Elverum this past summer when she got to join Team Canada in her first ever World Dwarf Games in Guelph, Ont., in August.

"It was quite an honour knowing that you're not just representing Canada, you're also representing Nunavut," said Elverum, the only athlete from the territory.

Elverum competed in a total of five sporting events — floor hockey, volleyball, track and field, badminton and soccer.

"It was awesome to [compete] against other little people," said Elverum. "It was just so eye opening to see everyone is dealing with the same thing, but we can still play sports."

Her team snagged gold in floor hockey and a silver in volleyball.

Training with rocks, harpoon

But it's not easy training in a remote, northern community.

"Since there is no track or field or a sports store here, for training I use a harpoon," said Elverum.

She says it's the "closest thing to a javelin," a light spear used in a track and field event.

Elverum competed in five different sporting events in Guelph, Ont. this August. (Submitted by Zoe Elverum)

"I run down the driveway and I throw it," said Elverum. "And it's quite fun to see all the kids going, like, 'what is she doing?'"

To practise shot put, Elverum goes on walks outside with her mother, looking for perfectly sized rocks to use. 

"My mom actually gets the kitchen scale out," said Elverum.

Goals for the Paralympics

Elverum says she wants to compete again at the World Dwarf Games in 2021. After, her goal is to compete in the Paralympics in 2024.

"I want to represent Nunavut, and be like, you know what? Anyone can do this. Anyone can go represent Nunavut. Anyone can go represent Canada."

With files from Michelle Pucci


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