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Newmarket speed skater tops Ontario Winter Games with 4 golds

'I'm very proud of myself for being able to show my abilities,' skater Yilian Liao says, readying for Canada-wide competition
Newmarket speed skater Yilin Liao (in red) won four gold medals at the Ontario Winter Games Feb. 2 to 5.

Newmarket speed skater Yilin Lao did not expect what she achieved at this year’s Ontario Winter Games.

Managing issues with quad muscles and confidence, the 15-year-old took to the ice alongside her Newmarket Jets Speed Skating Club teammates to compete against other top skaters in the province Feb. 2 to 5. 

But Liao proved the best among them, winning four race distances and coming home with four golds and a silver. 

“I’m very proud of myself for being able to show my abilities in the sport, as well as having a great time with my friends on the ice,” she said. “It was a great experience.”

Liao topped four different competitions, including the 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 3000m points race. She also earned a silver in the relay race.

Her Newmarket teammates also had some medal finishes at the event, with Haniya Jackson winning silvers in the 1500m and 3000m and bronze in the 1000m. Sruti Vasanthamalan also earned silver in the relay. 

Liao described some quad muscle problems going into the day of competition, making it difficult at times.

“I pushed through that and was able to come out with great results,” she said. “As the competition went on, I was like, ‘I’m getting into my groove, into my rhythm.’”
She added credit to her coaches for helping her excel. 

Newmarket Jets coach Paula McConvey said it is wonderful to see Liao and the team excel.

“I was very confident in Yilin. She’s dedicated, she has worked hard in training and on the ice and off the ice, skates year-round, and she’s got a really good mindset, in terms of reading the race and responding.” 

With the provincial winter games speed skating complete, Liao will now be preparing for the Canada Winter Games starting Feb. 18. Liao has qualified for Team Ontario, with Newmarket teammate Jackson also making it as an alternate.

“The Ontario Winter Games helped me kind of prepare,” she said. “I’m pretty excited."

Convey said Liao should have a good chance to medal at the national competition as part of a strong Ontario team.

“I’m really proud of her and all the athletes,” she said, adding that the performances show the value of dedication and hard work. “It really sheds the light to another type of skating sport, a winter sport that is offered in the area, and it’s wonderful to see the success from our Newmarket club.”