Paralympians say sport is a lesson in life
Investing in sport and its athletes means more than wins and losses for Canadian Paralympians Meghan Mahon and Blaise Mutware. For them, sport is a template for life, and it has shown them they can thrive with their disability and lead a successful and happy life.
The 29-year-old Mutware, who plays for Canada’s national men’s wheelchair basketball team, acquired his disability at age 20. He was born in Rwanda and eventually moved to Toronto at 13. He was enrolled in culinary school when he found himself confronted by two robbers and was shot in the leg. Most of the damage took place to the spine.
Already involved in basketball prior to his injury, the Para sport world allowed Mutware to immerse himself in a team environment where support was omnipresent after such a harrowing tragedy.
“A team means having each other’s back: suffering together, winning together,” said Mutware, who made his Paralympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020.
“They looked out for me, especially for me being one of the newer players, newly injured.”
Mahon, a two-time Paralympian with the women’s goalball team, was born with a genetic cone-rod retinal condition (achromatopsia). She has 10 percent vision. She was an excellent athlete growing up and despite her disability played in able-bodied leagues, including hockey. However as the competition matured, the games were simply too fast for Mahon.
She was eventually introduced to goalball and like Mutware, the team became her support network.
“My relationship with my teammates, they're basically family,” said the 27-year-old from Timmins, Ont., now based in Calgary where she is a child and youth worker for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
“They not only want the best for us as athletes but also want to help us develop as just people who can be successful outside of the world of sport.”
Mahon says it’s important that donors to the Paralympic Foundation of Canada’s Start Line Campaign realize they are investing in an inclusive society through the power of sport.
‘’The funds are providing opportunities for not only the elite athletes but those at the grassroots and those discovering sport for the first time,” she said. “That first discovery of sport whether it be a child, a youth or an adult, it really is a magical moment.”
Through athletes like Mahon and Mutware, that magic continues to show there are no limits for people with a disability.