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A Montreal resident with Down Syndrome has become a champion figure skator

A Montreal resident with Down Syndrome has become a champion figure skator

Although he is only 30 years old, Quebec snowboarder Emmanuel Bou-Lotallah has come a long way, and not only did he move to the country in 2006. Despite having Down Syndrome, he is determined to complete his journey in order to… Confirming what he already represents: a hero.

Originally from Lebanon, he has to deal with a congenital chromosomal abnormality, which in no way prevents him from growing. He found his calling in sports.

As proof of this, Montreal won a gold medal at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in 2019 to earn a spot on the Canadian Special Olympics team; After a pandemic-related postponement, these meetings were finally supposed to take place in Kazan, Russia, last year, but were canceled due to geopolitical turmoil in the region.

However, as he has done many times, Bou Lutfullah refuses to be defeated. He will compete at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Calgary this week in hopes of making another date for the world event.

Image source: Image courtesy of Manuela Emil Boulos

The person who has been involved in Special Olympics since 2009 is also proud of his entire journey. For him, his exploits on the ice proved to the world that people like him can achieve excellence.

“It changed my life,” he said in an interview with QMI. It helped me feel like myself. […] I am so grateful, because thanks to this, I was able to prove to the world that excellence and diversity are possible for people like me. I'm different, I'm a champion thanks to Special Olympics.

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Life has surprises in store

However, nothing indicated such success for him in the sport, as Emmanuel moved towards a completely different system upon his arrival in the country.

“Before he came to Canada, he played jazz ballet,” said his mother, Manuela Emil Boulos. When we came here, we started riding the horse, but he fell twice while training him. Then we decided to do something else. Since here, you have to do something with the snow to feel comfortable, and we love to dance, we decided to go ice skating.

Image source: Image courtesy of Manuela Emil Boulos

Then there are other hurdles to overcome, including the significant costs associated with training and the acquisition of specialized equipment that athletes must bear. This reality is no different for Bu Loaloa, especially considering the pace of his training.

“He has a personal trainer, which is us [la famille] Manuela explained: Who are we paying? Sometimes there is a CLSC that helps us with a very small amount, because he plays sports, but it is not much. It's expensive: rent the arena plus the bus at $50-60 per hour. Emanuel trains three times a week, and when there are big competitions like Calgary, it's four times…”

But these pitfalls do not seem to convince Bou Lutfallah to give up. His goal is very clear for the upcoming competition. “I want to be a hero. I want to make friends and have experiences.”

-In collaboration with Wilson Salon