First Nunavut gold-medal winner welcomed home in celebration

CAMBRIDGE BAY, NUNAVUT — It was a triumphant return home to Cambridge Bay on Monday for Nunavut’s gold medal-winning wrestler Eekeeluak Avalak.

Eighteen-year-old Avalak made Canada Games history by becoming the first Nunavut athlete to ever win a gold medal.

The wrestler’s emotional win at the Canada Summer Games brought his dreams of gold to reality after he won in the men’s 52 kg event on August 11, at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Close to 250 friends and relatives were at the airport the following Monday to greet him and his local teammates.

The welcome-home parade moved through Cambridge Bay’s downtown toward the community centre, until close to 500 people were in the hamlet for a celebration that was expected to increase in numbers and last into the night.

The crowd at the Canada Games Park gym offered a standing ovation as he leaped into the arms of his coach, Chris Crooks, after running a lap around the mat carrying the flag of Nunavut.

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