KAMLOOPS --- For a kid who grew up in a country with very limited access to an ice skating surface, Isaiah Jessie Uribe has become remarkably comfortable around the rink.
"He's come a long way from the little Colombian guy hanging onto the boards, never see ice before," says Kamloops Long Blades coach Sandi Vyse, "to now going to the B.C. Winter Games. He's racing in Canada Cups and long track --- huge growth in a short amount of time."
The 16-year old has skated his way into the premier ranks of speed skating in the province --- through hard work, perseverance and natural athletic ability --- and will represent the Kamloops Long Blades Speed Skating Club at this weeks B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops.
"It's pretty exciting." says Isaiah, "It's not an opportunity everybody gets to go to --- there's going to be a lot of different skaters there. The competiton is going to be really high."
Uribe, who hails from Envigado, Colombia, a suburb of Medellin, took to the ice quickly. He's now a speedster on the short track, but really shines on the bigger ice of long track. Uriube says he prefers the shorter distances, as he can really open it up out there.
"I'm kind of good at the long distance," says Isaiah, "but it's not my strongest point."
Says coach Vyse "He's very powerful. He's also very determined --- he likes the competition --- he can feel the adrenalin."
It almost wasn't to be for Uribe. Sandi Vyse says she wasn't sure he would quality for the B.C. Winter Games, because he's a foreign citizen.
"Initially we did'nt think he would be able to skate in the B.C. Games, because he isn't a Canadian citizen -- but B.C. Games rules are such that he can --- so that was really exciting, because it's kind of a bonus."
While speed skating isn't exactly about to overtake soccer as the number one sport in Colombia, Uribe's hope of one day competing for his country in the Olympics isn't out of the question.
Fellow countryman Pedro Causil became the first South American ever to skate in the Olympics this year at Pyeongchang.
"Now that they're sending one to the Olympics," says Isaiah, "it encourages me more to try harder now that I see a Colombian can actually make it to the Olympics."
But for now, Isaiah says his goal is to skate well for the Long Blazers at this weeks B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops.
Speed skating is Friday through Sunday at the Olympic rink at McArthur Island.
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