New Brunswick para-athletes are already breaking records and they haven’t even hit the podium. This year, the province will be represented at the 2021 Paralympic Games in a bigger way than ever before.
“We are breaking a record,” said Sally Hutt, executive director of Parasport New Brunswick.
New Brunswick is sending four athletes and one coach to this year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Hutt said that’s the most the province has ever sent.
It is a historic moment that Parasport NB hopes will raise the profile and popularity of para-sport in the province, Hutt said.
“We are always looking to recruit. There are a number of New Brunswickers within our province who are still unfamiliar with what parasport is and they are unfamiliar about what opportunities they have as a person with a disability,” she said.
Hutt said they are always looking for new recruits who can one day follow in the wake of para-athletes like 18-year-old Danielle Doris of Moncton, who is hoping to make it to the podium while competing at her second Paralympic Games.
“We are getting more people with disabilities into sport and giving them the opportunities that able-bodied people have, where they have the opportunities to go to these amazing competitions,” Dorris said.
Her fellow New Brunswicker and coach, Ryan Allen, has also been chosen to wear the maple leaf as a Team Canada Paralympic swim coach.
“This type of opportunity raises that awareness and opens the door for many more,” Allen said.
Kamylle Frenette of Dieppe will compete in para-triathlon, while Colin Higgins of Rothesay will be competing on the court in wheelchair basketball. The longtime athlete says he joined para-athletics after suffering a severe injury to his leg.
“Not everyone has to be a Paralympian. Just getting into that community — it is a whole new world and it can really invigorate someone and change their lives,” Higgins said.
Danielle Duplessis of Fredericton is the first female to make the wheelchair basketball team roaster since 1976, Hutt said.
“I do hope that in the coming years that more athletes come out and especially more female athletes come out and try it out,” Duplessis said.