100 days to Lima: Steph Dixon excited to unite Canada at Parapan Am Games

The country’s chef de mission is getting ready to lead our athletes in Peru

With the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games starting just 100 days from now, the country’s chef de mission is getting ready to lead our athletes in Peru. 

Stephanie Dixon, a 19-time Paralympic medallist in swimming as well as a coach, broadcaster, and mentor, will be at the helm of Canada for both Lima 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. ‘Privileged and honoured’ to be chef de mission, she plans to be the team’s biggest cheerleader and provide a platform to share the stories of the athletes.  

Here are some of her thoughts with 100 days to go until our athletes start competing in Lima. 

She is looking forward to combining her experiences both as an athlete and an active member of the Paralympic Movement as chef de mission:

“I get to share my experience as an athlete to our Canadian athletes who will be competing at the Games and help them to elevate their performances, as well as continue being part of a movement that is helping to make our world more inclusive and accessible.”

She wants to bring her whole self to the role:  

“I’m a chef that wants to be honest, authentic, and vulnerable and share all the parts of my story – the good, the bad, the ugly, the triumphs, the sorrows, the insecurities, how I was able to gain confidence. I want to share all of that with the athletes, so I’m someone who is relatable, and they can see themselves in my story and bring it back to their own journey and help to feel like they’re not alone, they have me as well as the rest of our country behind them.” 

Being assistant chef de mission for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games made her more excited about what these Games can mean for our athletes: 

“Toronto got me really excited about having the Parapan American Games be an opportunity for a lot of our athletes to have their first experience at a multi-sport Games. So I’m really excited to see Lima be that first-time experience for so many athletes and for our veterans to be a place where they can make their mark and show the rest of the world they’re coming for them in 2020.” 

She can’t wait to bring the team together in a positive atmosphere: 

“Excitement is really important, and I think that happens when we feel like a team. We start as individuals and then the athletes and coaches and staff come together from their individual sports, and then finally we come together as Team Canada. And when we come together as Team Canada, we’re not only excited for our own performances but for our teammates’ performances, for all of Team Canada’s performances. That feeling of unity and excitement is what I’m hoping to foster in Lima amongst our team.”

She advises the athletes to start getting into game-time mode now: 

“Start with those regular routines, going to bed at the same time, eating the same kinds of food, starting to find your playlist that you’re going to listen to right before you step on the field of play. Find your mantra, think about your whys, why are you doing this, why do you have the desire to be one of the best in the world, to stand on the international stage and show the world what you can do. When you have all those things in place, when you get to the Games, you’re going to hit the ground running and you’re going to do what you trained yourself to do.”

Stephanie Dixon Fun Facts: 

-    She lives in a cabin in the woods in Whitehorse where she chops her own firewood. She absolutely adores being surrounded by the outdoors and living in a tightknit community in Canada’s north. 

-    Her 100m backstroke gold medal at Athens was a testament to her will, desire, and belief. She had finished second to South Africa’s Natalie Du Toit four times already at the same Games before finally beating her rival and friend in their fifth race. 

-    She is very active and among her other hobbies are mountain biking and cross-country skiing. She also just started free diving.  

The Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games run August 23 to September 1.