For the past three years, the Paralympic Committee has been holding Paralympic Search events across the country. The goal is to promote parasports and maybe even find Canada’s next paralympians.
On Saturday, the Canada Games Centre played host to the event in Halifax.
“Sometimes in the parasport world it can be challenging to navigate where to find sport opportunities,” said Jenny Davey, manager of Paralympic Pathways.
She acknolwedged that often people want to try a sport but don’t know where to start. And that’s part of the idea behind the Paralympic Search.
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The committee organizes a day for para athletes to drop in and try up to 10 different sports. There are also drills to test their abilities, from endurance to hand eye coordination to wheelchair skills.
“We have some national and provincial team coaches who are going to be watching that as well, and kind of looking for that athleticism,” said Davey.
Also present at Halifax’s event was Paralympic gold medalist Andrew Haley. Haley lost his right leg to bone cancer as a young child and said it wasn’t always easy.
“I was really feeling different. I felt isolated from a lot of people,” he said. “I felt really self-conscious about having a disability.”
But he credits sport for helping to change that.
“When I found swimming, I found this oasis,” he said.
“When I went in the pool I didn’t care if someone saw me with one leg or whatever the case may be because that was my time.”
The goal of the event is to introduce athletes to the world of parasports and give them a chance to try a variety of different things. Some other sports they had today was tennis and sitting volleyball. pic.twitter.com/D1phTUoFOX— Alicia Draus (@Alicia_Draus) May 25, 2019
Athletes attending the event on Saturday shared similar stories about the importance of sport. Vicki Morton lost her leg in 2011 due to an infection. Because sport was always a big part of her life before that, she made sure it remained a part of her life.
Morton attended the event to get a better feel to the different para sports available in Halifax.
“I learned that wheelchair tennis is accessible in Halifax and there are areas where it’s happening,” she said.
While some of the athletes could have a chance to move on to compete at high levels, Davey says the day is about so much more than looking for Canada’s next top paralympians.
“We just want everyone to come out and enjoy themselves, meet people, we want them to find out about sports maybe they didn’t know about,” she said.
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