By Gord Bowes, News staff
Chuck Restivo may have won more gold medals than any other Hamilton athlete.
During more than three decades of competing in the pool, he has won dozens of them in provincial, national and international competition.
They hang on the wall of the swimmer’s bedroom near dozens of silver and bronze medals.
In June, Restivo won four more gold medals — 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle and 100m fly — at the Special Olympics provincials in Kingston. That earned him another trip to this year’s nationals, which are next week in Vancouver.
How does he win so often?
“Lots of practice and setting goals,” says Restivo.
It’s also his “incredible drive” and hating to lose, says his mom, Jeanette, who is also his coach.
Restivo, 49, was born with a form of autism. He always loved the water, says Jeanette, but he didn’t start swimming competitively until he was 16. He was prompted by teacher Alison Tweedy, who noticed him swimming at school. Two weeks later, Restivo was at his first Special Olympics competition.
“He won four events,” says Jeanette. “And he hasn’t stopped. One after the other after the other.”
If Restivo wins in Vancouver, he’ll punch his ticket to next year’s Special Olympics World Games in California.
The international competition holds a special place in Restivo’s heart. One of his favourite world games was in Ireland in 2003, getting to travel with several friends he made on Team Canada.
“Everybody enjoyed it,” he recalls. “That two weeks were two of the best weeks ever. It was so nice.”
Right now, Restivo is practising twice a week as a member of the Dundas Seahawks. Nine swimmers from the Seahawks returned home from the Provincial spring games in Kingston with a total of 33 medals.