Brantford’s Meghan Josling, 27, punched her ticket to the national Special Olympics in snowshoeing at the qualifiers in Huntsville on February 25 and 26.
“I ran the 5k, 10k and 1600 in Huntsville and won gold in all three,” Josling said. “I’m really proud of my races and am so excited to get to go to nationals in Calgary next year.”
The young snowshoe runner said that her 10k time was her best performance of the weekend, finishing in 56 minutes and 27 seconds.
This is the second time in recent years that Josling has qualified for the national games. In her last appearance, she qualified for the World Games in Russia.
“The World Games were originally supposed to be in 2020, but due to COVID they were postponed twice before being cancelled,” she said. “I’ve been spending a lot of time training since then to get ready for this year so I was super happy with my qualifying time.”
In 2016, Josling took up snowshoeing after falling in love with track and field. The sport was new at the time and one of her coaches asked if she’d be interested.
“I have always been into running,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work but I really do enjoy it. Snowshoeing is a little bit different, out in the freezing cold. It’s a mental sport and you have to train your mind.”
Josling was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was two years old and was born with a congenital condition called Noonan syndrome, which causes uncontrollable seizures.
“I had about 150 seizures a day until I was about nine years old,” she said. “When I was 10, I had brain surgery after they put a grid inside my brain to see where the seizures were coming from. They took a part of my frontal lobe and my parietal lobe and ever since, I’ve been seizure free.”
Josling said that she had to relearn how to walk, write, and “do everything that everybody else does.” She said that her disability is what drives her to continue to follow her dreams.
“Going through that at such a young age, you become more determined and learn to never give up,” she said. “Even to this day, I aim to prove people wrong. Doctors didn’t think I would be able to walk or talk again and I proved them wrong.”
Josling said that she is no stranger to facing judgement and barriers in her life, both in athletics and her everyday life.
“I faced a lot of bullying in high school and I was petrified to go to school,” she said. “I took up karate and it helped me gain courage and I felt like I had my power back. I still feel that sometimes when I compete in neurotypical races, people talk differently to me or doubt me but that motivates me to be better.”
Nationals take place in Calgary, Alberta in 2024, and Josling will compete in her three events. She said that she will take the month off before beginning to train for the games.
“I’m excited to represent my hometown and be a role model for other young athletes,” she said. “To think that I wasn’t even able to walk down the driveway, and now I’m going to Alberta for the national games, it’s crazy.”