The Paralympics have started and Canada has already won two medals. Aurelie Rivard, one of the most decorated Canadian para athletes, picked up bronze in the S10 50 metre freestyle swimming and Keely Shaw in her first Paralympics won bronze in the C4 3000 metre individual pursuit in cycling.
Stefan Daniel is a para triathlete, and was the recent world champion in 2019. It requires running, swimming and cycling, so he's pretty much an all-round athlete. He is also a leader for the U of Calgary's Dinos cross-country team, which is not a 'para' team.
Kate O'Brien is a cyclist, only competing since an accident left her with a serious brain injury in 2017. Before that she was a bobsledder. In her debut year, she won gold at the 2020 world championships.
I have to say how much I admire the para athletes. Para athletes have such challenges to conquer just to get there. Olympic athletes just have to be the best in their event; para athletes have to be the best AND overcome big personal challenges just to get there.
I don't want to belittle the effort it takes to get to the Olympics, let alone win a medal. We're all proud of all the athletes who represent our country. But as a disabled person myself I know that para athletes will have two big sources of satisfaction, the personal disability challenges they have overcome, and the victory of making it to the Paralympics. For all of these athletes, life consists of overcoming your disability. It's a constant battle every day.
As Bruce Crave, a Paralympic and Olympic trainer since 1988 has said: 'They are where they are because they're fighters and they are usually a bit stubborn and they're not going to take no for an answer." Pretty good attitudes to become a para athlete!
I hope you get some time to pay attention to your country's para athletes over the next two weeks. Just remember the challenges they've faced to get there.
** Credit to CBC for all pictures.