Her father did it more than three decades ago.
Earlier this month, Maddie Mullin from Fergus, won gold at the Canada Winter Games in P.E.I., in the same province where in 1991, her dad Matt Mullin became a gold medallist in men's hockey.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Maddie brought home the gold as well as two silver medals in para Nordic skiing.
From Feb. 18 to March 5, over 3,600 participants came to celebrate the best in Canadian sport including competitors in hockey, archery, speed skating, snow boarding, table tennis, ringette, and curling.
Maddie says being able to compete this year in P.E.I. was a special experience, especially with her father by her side.
“It feels wonderful. Even though its a different sport, it’s still so special to go with my dad because he went with his dad in 1991, when he won the hockey championship,” Maddie said.
Diagnosed at birth with congenital glaucoma, Maddie has little peripheral vision in her left eye and no vision in her right eye.
But with a big love of sports, the 15 year old has never held back from achieving her goals.
“It feels so amazing to win,” Maddie said.
“It was really exciting and new, especially because of all of the people that I met there. There were opportunities to meet all of the different coaches and to see how they coach their teams. And it a great experience to be able to compete and to do things as a team.”
Maddie won gold in the sprint, a silver in the 5 km skate race, and another silver in the 2.5 classic race.
“This really is a neat story for us for sure,” her father said.
“Back in 1991, my dad and my grandfather came to watch me play in the Canada Games for Team Ontario and we were lucky enough to win the gold medal. So, that was the real start of my hockey journey.”
Matt says that when Maddie first became involved with cross country skiing, the hope was that someday, she would make it to the Canada Winter games.
Little did he know it would be in the same province.
“She did make it, and it just so happened that this year, here we were again, in P.E.I.,” Matt said.
Maddie’s mother, Andrea Mullin, says that from a very young age, her daughter had an interest in sports.
“We thought about what sports might be open to Maddie. We took her to the para-sport open house at the Canadian Sport Institute. She was just 10 years old.”
Maddie’s future coach, Patti Kitler, a ‘guru’of para Nordic skiing, suggested that Maddie come and try it out.
Kitler has trained athletes and built sport clubs and para Nordic ski programs since 1982.
“She invited us out. Maddie tried it and found her new love. And that was the beginning of her sport,” Andrea said.
Since then, Maddie continues to train regularly.
“I train twice a week with my team and once or twice a week on my own. So all in all, I train about four times a week. In the summer for training, me and the para group, we roller ski. It’s like skiing, but on wheels,” Maddie said.
“When I was younger, I did gymnastics and that has really helped me with flexibility because with skiing, sometimes you have to be able to put in that extra step at the finish line.”
Matt says it was exciting to watch Maddie make it first to the finish with her guide, Faith Goudie.
“It was neat to watch because her competition actually started 45 seconds ahead of Maddie. But Maddie was able to catch up to her and beat her in the last 50 metres. So, it was a fun race to watch, right down to the finish,” Matt said.
“In para-Nordic skiing, different disabilities have different classifications where there are time adjustments. So, that made that particular race so exciting because Maddie had to make up time over a short distance.”
Maddie says when not training, she enjoys running, downhill skiing and sometimes, snow boarding.
The Grade 10 student says her future goal is to attend university and pursue business and accounting.
“She’s a typical teenager who likes hanging out with her friends,” Andrea said.
“She does go to Canmore every year for a training camp. She’s now on the prospect team for the national team for Nordic Canada, and that’s super exciting too.”
Maddie has one older sister and a fraternal twin sister and says she is grateful for all of the support from her family and friends.
“My friends wanted to come with me. And everyone has been so supportive,” Maddie said.
A love for the great outdoors is a big reason why Maddie has a passion for the sport of para-Nordic skiing.
“I just love being outside. You can explore the trees and nature, but in a fun way,” Maddie said.
“And I really enjoy the competitive aspect as well. I like how active it is and how long it goes for. Even though it’s a winter sport, you can still train in the summer.”
Andrea says experiencing the Canada Winter Games has given Maddie a renewed love of her sport.
“She’s met a whole lot of new people, which I think really opened her eyes to how the sport in general, has such a huge team aspect,” Andrea said.
“And she was so excited to go back with her dad, especially since his big win in P.E.I.”
After his win, Matt continued a successful career as a goaltender in the Ontario Hockey League and minor pro ranks. He has since been inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame.
Returning to P.E.I. brought back great memories, old and new.
“We are so proud. It was a great experience for Maddie to get out there and be involved in the Canada Winter Games and to see every province represented," Matt said.
Maddie hopes to inspire others to not give up and live their dreams too.
“Don’t be scared. If you need help, ask someone,” Maddie said.
“Just persevere, be brave, and don’t be afraid to take risks.”