Tildesley will lead the Canadian Paralympic team of 143 athletes
into the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the Birds Nest, for the
2008 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony on September 6.
I had no idea this was coming. When my name was announced it was
like an electric shock shooting through my body, I could hardly believe
that I this kid with a visual impairment from Vancouver would be
given such an honour, said multiple-Paralympic medallist Tildesley.
Im touched that my team decided to nominate me for this position.
One of Canadas best Paralympic long-distance swimmers, Tildesley
holds the world record in the mens 800m and 1500m freestyle in the S11
The 24-year-old athlete from Vancouver, BC is visually impaired and races in the S11 category for totally blind swimmers.
At the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, he earned a silver medal in
both the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley, and a bronze medal
in the 100m freestyle. At the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, he won the
bronze in the 200m individual medley.
Tildesley said he wants to have the most fun of all in Beijing as
he plans to retire after these Paralympic Games which makes it even
more special to have been named flagbearer.
Tildesley competes in his first race on day three of the Games in the 100m fly.
He swims with the UBC Dolphins under coach Derrick Schoof. He
started racing in 1993 and was coached by his father, Hugh Tildesley, a
former competitive swimmer, and his uncle Murray Tildesley, a former
national record holder. Hugh is with the Canadian Paralympic team in
Beijing as his sons tapper. A tapper lets swimmers with a visual
impairment know when they are about to reach the wall of the pool.
He has been in the water since he was six months old, and his
earliest sporting memory is of racing his father in the pool at age
With just two days to go before the Opening Ceremony of the 2008
Paralympic Games, excitement is building, said Chef de Mission for the
Canadian team Debbie Low. All of the athletes here have earned the
right to represent Canada. These Games will be an important part of
Paralympic Games history, with many firsts and many triumphs to be had.
The combination of our athletes and our mission staff along with the
support of our friends and family, both at home and on-site, will make
these Games memorable for all.
Previous recent flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony of the
Paralympic Games include Chantal Benoit (2004, wheelchair basketball),
Gary Longhi (2000, cycling) and Jeff Christy (1996, goalball) along
with Marni Abbott-Peter (1996, wheelchair basketball).