Nunavut athlete makes grandfather proud in Cambridge Bay
Sabina Nartok takes home a bouquet of gold at Kitikmeot Summer Games
Special to Nunatsiaq News
CAMBRIDGE BAY — Sabina Nartok is taking home eight gold medals from this year’s 2014 Kitikmeot Summer Games.
And the 17-year-old from Kugaaruk only started competing two years ago.
“I tried one-foot-high-kick when I was three-years-old,” she said, but didn’t enter her first competition until she was 15.
During her first summer games two years ago in Kugluktuk, Nartok won seven gold medals and two silver medals.
“I like playing these games because it’s our culture,” said Nartok. “I’m really proud to be winning.”
The Kitikmeot Summer Games, held every year in western Nunavut, feature Inuit games as well as traditional skill competitions such as bannock making, goose plucking and seal skinning.
Nartok has been competing in traditional sporting events all summer. Earlier this month, she also competed in the traditional Circumpolar Northern Games in Inuvik where she won five golds and two silvers.
This games competition hosts northern athletes from Alaska, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Nunavik and is one of the biggest competitions she’s ever attended.
“I really like kicking high,” she said. “One-foot-high-kick is my favourite event because it’s what I’m the best at.”
The night before she left for Cambridge Bay to kick against other athletes, she said her seven-month-old son launched his own career as a traditional athlete.
“I was holding him,” she said, “and he was holding one of his feet and he starting kicking the other [mimicking the Alaskan-high-kick].”
Nartok said it’s very important to her to pass on these traditions to her son, the same way her Grandfather passed them on to her.
“My grandfather taught me everything,” she said with a smile.
Her Grandfather, Makabe Nartok, accompanied her to Cambridge Bay where she competed in her third summer games.
“I’m always proud when I watch her compete,” said Makabe, who served as a games official. “It makes me happy. Really happy.”
Makabe Nartok started competing in these types of events when he was 26, and still holds a world record for the airplane at 168 feet.
“He’s gone further,” Nartok said, “but it wasn’t during competition so it didn’t count.”
Having her grandfather with her at these traditional competitions makes Sabina feel confident and relaxed. She loves having her teacher by her side.
Passing on traditions was a popular theme at the Kikitmeot Summer Games in Cambridge Bay.
Twenty-five-year-old Leo Ameralik brought his wife and two children to support him during the August long-weekend events.
“Having my family here is great,” he said. “It’s very comforting, it keeps me calm and motivated.”
Ameralik started learning traditional sports from his father when he was only four.
“I’m excited to show my son how to do these games when he’s ready and when he wants to,” said the Gjoa Haven resident.
In his third summer games he won seven gold medals including the one-foot-high-kick and two-foot-high-kick, where he jumped more than seven feet in both events.
At his first Kitikmeot Summer Games event in 2009, he came second place overall.
“I beat a 325-pound man in the muskox push,” he said with a grin.
Ameralik improves every year; he came in first place overall this year in Cambridge Bay.
“Doing well makes me proud,” he said. “I’m hoping to see more younger kids playing next year.”