2016 Paralympic Summer Games from September 7-18

From September 7-18 Brazil will host the XXV Paralympic Summer Games. This year 162 athletes will compete at the Games for Team Canada including (bullets courtesy of the Ontario Government):

  • Priscilla Gagné, a Sarnia judoka who won silver at the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
  • Whitney Bogart, a 2015 Parapan Am Games Goalball gold medalist from Thunder Bay.
  • Melanie Hawtin, Ontario’s lightning-fast wheelchair basketball player from Oakville who won silver with Team Canada at the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
  • Jason Dunkerley, the Ottawa runner who is the current Canadian record holder for the T11 800m, 1500m and 5000m.

In total there will be 4,350 athletes from more than 161 countries, and a refugee team competing in 22 sports at the XXV Paralympic Summer Games. CBC will be providing full coverage of the Games, which includes ample opportunities for viewers to stream competitions.

The Opening Ceremony begins tomorrow, September 7 at 6:30 PM with wheelchair basketball veteran David Eng as Team Canada’s Paralympic flag-bearer. This will be an incredible chance to see a variety of sports that rarely make it onto television such as wheelchair tennis, archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football 5-a-side, football 7-a-side, goalball, paracanoe, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball!!!!

In an interview with CBC, Chantal Peticlerc – Team Canada’s Chef de Mission, appointee to the Senate of Canada and winner of 21 Paralympic medals – recently said (and I couldn’t agree more):

The level of inspiration that Canadians and kids with disability or older people with disability can get from our athletes and the Paralympic Games is amazing. . . It inspires because it proves that it can be done … That always touches me. It’s tough for a parent of a child with disabilities, because you want them to push their limits and you want them to believe anything is possible. So they can see the Paralympic Games with all the disabilities. You’ve got visually impaired people on a bike going 100 kilometres an hour. It’s a very, very powerful human message.

Parapan Am Games: Goalball

During the last weekend of TO2015, I attended the women’s wheelchair basketball medal games on August 14, and the men’s goalball medal games on August 15. Last year, the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship was held in Toronto where the Canadian women’s team won gold. It was an exciting tournament and one that should have garnered more attention.

At the Parapan Am Games, the women’s wheelchair basketball gold medal match came down to USA and Canada. During the last quarter of play, USA was stronger both defensively and offensively, and went on to win the match dominantly. It was a disappointing finish for Canada in front of a home crowd, but for many para-sports, USA and Canada tend to oscillate between gold and silver.

Goalball, on the other hand, has a dynamic that is different from any other. It’s a game for the blind, played by two teams, three players per team, for two 20-minute halves. All players defend their net, which spans the width of the field; and all players shoot the ball on instinct and with strategy. Here’s a great video from Global National about what goalball is:

Pretty cool huh? Goalball, as described in the video, is a sport all on its own – it is not based off of any other and is one of the only sports for the visually impaired. I took pictures*** of the goalball bronze (Canada vs Argentina) and gold (Brazil vs USA) medal matches at the Parapan Am Games, and tried to capture the intimacy of the space with spectators on both ends and one side of the field. It was quite the experience, and one where silence from the audience is preferred, this allows players to hear the ball as it hurdles towards them.

IMG_3101 IMG_3120 IMG_3123 IMG_3134 IMG_3128 IMG_3161 IMG_3176 IMG_3173 IMG_3192 IMG_3207

***All pictures © Cristina Murano

2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship

From Friday, June 20th to Saturday, June 28th, Toronto will host the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. This tournament will be the largest women’s world championship event for wheelchair basketball ever as 12 countries compete for the title.

Games will be played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre and tickets for the event are already on sale with the opening match sold out.

Hosted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada (WBC), which has “a rich history of hosting major international wheelchair basketball events, including the Men’s World Championship in 1994, the inaugural U23 Men’s World Championship in 1997, and the first-ever U25 Women’s World Championship in 2011.

Team Canada is in pursuit of an unprecedented seventh straight podium performance at the world championships, including a run of four consecutive gold medals from 1994-2006. Coupled with their success at the Paralympic Games, they are amongst the most successful and dominant teams of all-time in Canadian amateur sport” 2014wheelchairbasketball.com/event-info/about-2014-wwwbc

This is an exciting tournament and a fantastic opportunity to see talented women basketball players from around the world! If you’re planning to attend and are unfamiliar with the competition at this tournament, check out this great preview.