The 16-year-old Ucluelet track and field star, who took home three gold medals from last year’s Special Olympics B.C. Games, has earned a spot in the national competition in Nova Scotia from July 31 to August 4.
“It’s very exciting. I’m happy that I’m going this year,” Lengyel told the Westerly News. “I’m going to meet more people [and] it’s fun to meet new people.”
Lengyel will be competing in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints as well as running long jump. He said he’s been training hard and hopes to do well enough at the national event to secure a spot at next year’s Special Olympic World Games in Abu Dhabi.
“I like to train very hard and I like to push myself. I like to work hard until I sweat and need to drink lots of water. I eat healthy and I like to lift heavy weights,” he said. “I want to be a very healthy Olympian…I like pushing myself more to be stronger and healthier.”
He added the support of his parents, Dale and Jacqueline Holliday, has been key to his success.
“My dad and my mom have been very supportive of me going through the Special Olympics since I started,” he said. “My mom has been yelling at me always to push myself to go faster…I love that they’ve always been there for me.”
In preparation for Nationals, Lengyel has ramped up his training regimen, working with local trainer Kara Stevens and travelling to Port Alberni every week to train with Special Olympics track coach Mike Riddalls.
“He has a very engaging personality…He’s an upbeat kind of person. He’s talkative and he gets along really well with people,” Riddalls said of Lengyel. “I’ve always found Maxtin to be one of the most easygoing Special Olympians I’ve come across and that’s why I like coaching him. He responds to you and he’s got a cheerful personality and I certainly wish him well.”
Riddalls added he has been travelling up to Ucluelet several times a month since December as Lengyel’s training gets more intense.
“We’ve been working him really hard this year because he is going to Nationals and the expectations are much higher than they would be for the rest of our track club,” he said. “He works really hard. His mom is very encouraging and Dale too. He’s just got that ability to be able to work hard…When he comes to practice he’s ready to work.”
He added Lengyel is the first Ucluelet local to compete at the Special Olympics nationally.
Lengyel said he’s excited to represent the West Coast and grateful for his community’s support as he fundraises for his upcoming trip to Nova Scotia.
“Thank you to my community for helping me go to this,” he said. “This is a very beautiful place. It’s a very small town and it’s very nice here. I’m very excited that the community is helping me raise the money and helping me do this.”
Jacqueline Holliday said she was thrilled to see her son develop a passion for track and field and quickly find success.
“The announcement that Maxtin was on his way to Nationals was huge. He is so young and has come such a distance in a short amount of years,” she said. “Nationals will mean big competition. Big competition has meant Maxtin needed to run faster and jump farther. He has trained hard to do this, and we truly hope he does his best…We are so proud of Maxtin and all of his hard work. We are also grateful to the Special Olympics Program and all of the opportunities it has provided for our son.”