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The Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Paralympian Search stopped at Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) on Saturday, February 27 for an epic day of #PARATOUGH physical testing at the world-class high performance training facility. The day saw over 40 enthusiastic participants with a physical disability or visual impairment try a variety of physical tests, with the goal of identifying potential future Paralympians.
Lead by CSIO’s expert staff of sport scientists, participants were evaluated on their strength, speed and endurance at various stations over the course of the day.
Representatives from provincial and national sport organizations including Ontario Blind Sports Association, Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association, Snowboard Ontario, Wheelchair Basketball Canada, Cross Country Canada, Cycling Canada, and Swimming Canada observed the physical testing, looking for attributes that may correlate to their respective sports and programs. It was also a great opportunity for participants and their families to learn about parasport programs that are available at all levels of sport, with the hopes of engaging these athletes and others to be active for life.
“The Paralympian Search offers new and existing athletes the opportunity to discover which sport they have the strongest high performance potential in,” said Catherine Gosselin-Després, Executive Director, Sport, for the Canadian Paralympic Committee. “We were delighted to see over 40 athletes attend the event and will now work with our national, provincial and local sport partners as needed in determining what the next step is for each athlete. We look forward to tracking their progress and hopefully one day seeing a Paralympic medallist identified by this program.”
Paralympic wheelchair basketball player Elaine Allard was on hand throughout the day to offer encouragement and talk to participants about her journey in sport. Allard won a silver medal at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games and gold at the 2014 World Championships. She is also a member of CSIO’s reception staff, working part-time when she isn’t training with the national team.
“There were so many participants here, people who want to be active and engaged in parasport, it’s an amazing sign,” said Allard. “The connection between the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Canadian Sport Institutes across the country and national sport organizations is so important in bringing these athletes together and identifying their abilities. It is going to make athletes perform better and the future generation even more successful in representing Canada on the podium. One of these participants could be the next Paralympic star.”
The day allowed Allard to reflect on her own athletic experiences and how sport has provided her with confidence and determination:
“To see the participants at the beginning of the day be nervous, I can understand that, even as a national team athlete I still get nervous before testing, but I could also feel the passion and excitement they had. Even being nervous, these participants did their best and wanted to do even better. They had fire in their eyes.”
Additional Paralympian Search events this year are scheduled for Halifax on April 23 and Montreal on April 30. The first Paralympian Search event was held in Calgary on Nov. 14, 2015.
For more information and to register, please visit paralympic.ca/paralympian-search.
Written by Laura Albright for Canadian Sport Institute Ontario | @CSIOntario