Natasha Stasiuk’s 25th birthday was certainly a memorable one this year, as that’s the day she returned home to Canada with the bronze medal in golf from the Special Olympics World Games.
The Humber College Developmental Service Worker student made the podium at the World Games, which ran June 17 to June 25 in Berlin and had 7,000 athletes from 170 countries competing. She missed out on second place and the silver medal by just two strokes.
Stasiuk, who is living with autism, felt she could have played a little better but was still happy to win bronze.
“I was very proud, and I had some tears in my eyes,” she said, adding that attending the World Games and winning a medal was the most memorable moment of her golf career.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the golfer. Stasiuk had broken her ankle prior to the tournament and only received a doctor’s approval to play a week before she left. She walked the course as no carts were allowed, which left her ankle swollen each night. She didn’t even play a full 18 holes before the World Games due to her ankle.
Stasiuk’s father Peter came with her to Berlin and was her caddie. It made for an extremely memorable World Games for him while Stasiuk said it felt really nice to have him there with her.
“She played amazingly, and had so many great shots,” said Peter. “It was a wonderful experience to be by her side. I’m extremely proud of what she was able to accomplish in tough conditions against tough competition.”
Stasiuk was impressed by the opening ceremonies that had the teams of athletes walking in together plus the fireworks display that accompanied it. She spoke about how welcoming and inclusive the World Games were and how she would compete in them again without hesitation. She added that she already missed her teammates and roommate.
Arriving home from the World Games was also a moment Stasiuk won’t soon forget. Dozens of people were waiting at the airport when the athletes arrived and began cheering for them. Stasiuk was handed flowers and was greeted by her mother Sandra and her sister.
Stasiuk won all four of Golf Ontario’s Ontario Disability Women’s Championship tournaments between 2019 and 2022 and both of Golf Canada’s Canadian All Abilities Women’s Championship tournaments in 2021 and 2022.
Earlier this year the Oakville resident was named the winner of the 8th annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award. The award is presented by LondonOntarioSports.com and winners receive $1,000 plus a commemorative plaque and are provided with a platform to share their story to inspire others.
Fresh off her success at the World Games, Stasiuk is gearing up for the second annual U.S. Adaptive Open Championship that runs July 10 to July 12. Last year, as the only Canadian woman golfer competing at the inaugural Adaptive Open, Stasiuk finished fifth.