Bolton medals 17 times at World Dwarf Games

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It takes Charlotte Bolton a couple of minutes to sort and count her World Dwarf Games medals.

The 14-year-old Tillsonburg athlete brought home 17 medals from the 2017 World Dwarf Games in Guelph - including 10 gold medals, six silver and one bronze - competing in badminton (singles and doubles), basketball, soccer, swimming, track and field (60m sprint, 4x60m shuttle relay, discus, javelin and shot put), table tennis and volleyball.

In Ontario, discus and javelin are not typically introduced until high school, so Charlotte learned the techniques at a Guelph clinic. She laughed remembering how she threw one javelin, somehow causing it to flip mid-air so it landed with the wrong end striking the ground first.

"Mom (Bridget Fearon) has it on video!" Charlotte smiled.

"When I was going to do my javelin, everyone said 'you'll get no power unless you just run...' But one flipped upside down and the other didn't make it, so it was bad advice. The one I stuck in the ground right, which won it for me, I did with my technique. It's three steps."

Second in shot put, she won discus.

She also won a nailbiter in the soccer finals against the Americans, who had already claimed team titles in volleyball and basketball. Scoreless through regulation, it came down to a shootout. Charlotte missed her chance from the penalty spot (missed it by 'this much'), but her teammates pulled it out.

"It was very dramatic. Baptiste, he joined our team from France, he took the (winning) shot, then ran around the pitch screaming. Very funny.

"I liked the badminton - that was fun because I had never done that before other than gym class," she said, noting her other favourite sports were soccer, swimming and track and field. "I had good competition this year. This year my friend Lucy from Canada was my main competition because we were neck and neck, swapping between silver and gold."

All with minimal training in the months leading up to Guelph.

"I probably should have," she laughed. "But I did a little bit of working out and swimming in the pool, and I played soccer. And I did a volleyball camp literally the week before."

Winning medals, however, was not her main goal at the Games.

"It was great because I saw some of the people I met four years ago, but I also met new people. So you see old friends and make new friends at the same time. And you get to compete against short people, which was pretty great. I had a lot of fun - it was good. And getting to compete against all the different countries, like Russia and Switzerland, and crazy places like Australia."

As host country, Canadian numbers were up in Charlotte's 12-15 year old division (including an athlete from Nunavut), which translated into Canadian teams with a couple European additions rather than a full international blend. That added to the camaraderie and team spirit in Guelph, and made them one of the most competitive teams, along with the US.

"Nunavoot," said Charlotte, noting how the northern athlete pronounced it.

Now in Grade 9 at Glendale High School, Charlotte had also competed in the 2013 World Dwarf Games in East Lansing, Michigan (in the Junior A division, 7-11). She's already looking forward to the 2021 World Dwarf Games when she will compete in the open division as an 18-year-old.

World Dwarf Games, which started in 1993 in Chicago, has continued every four years with stops in England, France, Northern Ireland, Toronto, and Michigan. Participation has steadily grown from 165 and 83 in the first two Games, up to the 2013 Games in Michigan with 395 athletes representing 17 countries.

This summer Guelph anticipated 500 athletes of all ages and abilities, expecting it to be the largest sporting event in history held exclusively for athletes with dwarfism. Many of the athletes stayed in the Athletes' Village, although some Ontario athletes commuted daily.

Opening ceremonies were held Friday, August 4 at the University of Guelph Alumni Stadium. Events continued from August 5-12, with closing ceremonies Saturday, August 12 following the soccer finals, kurling, and junior powerlifting clinic.

"You didn't get anything for that (powerlifting)," said Charlotte. "It wasn't a competition."

One of the Canadians, about four-and-a-half feet tall, bench pressed 150 kg (330 pounds)... with his feet still on the bench.

"I don't remember how much I bench pressed," Charlotte admitted.

"Fifty-one?" guessed her father Scot Bolton.

"I did just a little more than Wyatt, so about 67 or 68 pounds," said Charlotte.

"It was pretty impressive," said Scot, noting some of the little people needed stools to get on the bench. "All of the little people... the weight to power ratio is higher than your average person. I don't know the reason, but it's pretty impressive."

Charlotte recalled a Russian woman bench pressing 108 kg (238 pounds).

"And she did it without the straps! They strap the feet in so the feet don't lift up when you press."



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