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Silver medallist Morrison grateful for Junio's sacrifice

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CBC
2/12/2014 12:53:19 PM
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Denny Morrison's silver medal performance in the men's 1,000 metre speed skating medal nearly didn't happen. After falling during the Canadian Olympic team trails, Morrison missed earning a place in the event.

But on Tuesday, fellow Canadian Gilmore Junio gave up his spot in the race, saying that to have Morrison compete would be "in the best interest of the team."

"When he rang me, I thought he was pulling my leg," said Morrison, of Junio's decision. "Why would he do it unless he was injured? The coaches knew but decided he was the one to tell me.

"We were at Canada Olympic House with our families and when it came from the horse's mouth, it was a moment I will never forget."

As Morrison stepped onto the podium following the race, Junio's decision must have seemed clairvoyant.

Morrison skated against 500m champion, Michel Mulder of the Netherlands, and finished in a time of one minute 08.43 seconds. The Canadian slotted into second place, with six of the top skaters remaining.

One by one, each of the remaining athletes failed to earn a podium spot.

"I called it, so it feels good to be a prophet," Junio told CBC Sports. "A lot of kudos goes to this guy [Morrison] because he made it happen."

'I feel like getting my medal and cutting it in half because he deserves it'

Morrison credits Junio's help — not just in giving up the spot — but for his hard work as a training partner.

"He's been helping me with my openers for the last four years," said Morrison of Junio. "I opened 16.6 today. It's my fastest opener in six years time, and I never would have gotten this medal without having those openers, and guys like Gilmore and Jamie Gregg, and of course giving his spot up for me.

"After what [Junio] did, it made it even more special. Giving up your spot is unprecedented. I feel like getting my medal and cutting it in half because he deserves it."

Junio was watching from the stands as his friend and teammate took to the ice to race. Junio yelled even louder as subsequent athletes failed to beat Morrison's time.

"I was literally shaking and couldn't stay focused," said Junio "I was definitely breathing hard, and I kind of lost my voice because I was cheering so hard. It was definitely worth it."

Morrison will compete in the men's 1,500, Feb. 15, 2014.

Denny Morrison (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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