Canada chasing spots for this summer’s Paralympic Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

January 11, 2024

Wheelchair basketball and rugby teams at last chance qualifiers

wheelchair rugby

With the 2024 Paralympic Games set to officially get underway on August 28 in Paris, it is getting down to crunch time for athletes to assure their presence in the French capital – especially for three Canadian teams. 

In 2023, Canada qualified for the Games in women’s goalball and women’s sitting volleyball. This spring, both the women’s and men’s wheelchair basketball teams and the wheelchair rugby squad are headed to last chance tournaments.

With veterans such as Zak Madell and Cody Caldwell in wheelchair rugby, Pat Anderson and Nik Goncin in men’s wheelchair basketball, and Cindy Ouellet and Kady Dandeneau in women’s wheelchair basketball, Canada appears in strong position to qualify at all three competitions.

The men’s goalball and men’s sitting volleyball teams fell short in their qualifying bids in 2023.


March 20-24: wheelchair rugby, Paralympic Games qualifier, Wellington, New Zealand

In 2023, Canada needed to win the gold medal at the Parapan American Games in Santiago to clinch a spot for Paris. However, the Canadians (ranked fifth in the world) lost the final to the world number-one U.S. squad. Now they must head to the other side of the world and finish in the top-three at the last qualifying event for the Games.

The Paralympic Games tournament will field eight countries. Qualified so far are the U.S., France as host, (ranked sixth in the world), defending Games champion Great Britain (#4), Denmark (#7) from the European championships, and Japan (#3) from the Asian championships.

April 12-15: men’s wheelchair basketball, Paralympic Games qualifier, Antibes, France

The number of countries in men’s wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games has been reduced from 12 to eight.

Three countries are qualified so far. Great Britain and Spain took the two spots from the European championships and the U.S., the reigning world and Paralympic champs, booked its ticket with gold at the Parapan Am Games. One spot is available at this month’s Asian championships.

The other four countries will be determined in the South of France in April. Canada, sixth at last year’s worlds, faces France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Morocco, Colombia, and the second-place team from the Asian championships. The top four will go to Paris.

April 17-20: women’s wheelchair basketball, Paralympic Games qualifier, Osaka, Japan

The Canadian women just missed gaining an early spot to Paris at the Parapan Ams in November. They lost by six to the Americans in the final. The U.S. joins Great Britain and Netherlands as the qualified teams for Paris so far. The Asian representative will be determined this month.

Like the men, the last four spots for Paris are up for grabs in Osaka. Joining Canada, fifth at the 2023 worlds, are Japan, France, Spain, Germany, and Algeria.

The women’s tournament at the Games has been reduced from 10 to eight teams.


As is usually the case in a Paralympic year, there are fewer world championships in 2024, but three before the Games could potentially be important tests for strong Canadian teams.

March 20-24: Para cycling, world track championships, Rio de Janeiro

In 2024, the Para cycling world championships will be separate events. The track worlds are set for March 20-24 in Rio and the road worlds are after the Paralympic Games in Zurich (September 21-29).

At last year’s worlds in Glasgow, Canada was impressive on the track led by a triple medal performance by Mel Pemble. She took gold in the Omnium, silver in the scratch race, and bronze in the 500m time trial. Keely Shaw and Katie O’Brien added silver medals.

In Para cycling, the qualification period for the Paralympic Games ends on June 30. It started on January 1, 2023.

May 9-11: Para canoe, world championships, Szeged, Hungary

Brianna Hennessy and Erica Scarff firmly established themselves as medal contenders at the 2023 Para canoe worlds. Hennessy earned two Games spots for Canada with silver medals in the Kl1 and VL2 200-m events. Scarff also landed Canada a berth in the VL3 200 with silver.

The  2024 Para canoe worlds will be a final opportunity to gain more spots with the top-four in each of the five paddling events for men and women earning a berth for their country.

May 17-25: Para athletics, world championships, Kobe, Japan

The Canadian team won 14 medals (2 gold, 7 silver, 5 bronze), won by nine different medallists at the Paris worlds in 2023. The team nailed down 10 qualification spots for Paris 2024.

Wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos won three medals including a gold while Austin Smeenk, Marissa Papaconstantinou and newcomer Bianca Borgella reached the podium twice.

Japan will host the Para athletics world championships for the first time, May 17-25 in Kobe, in what could be another great appetizer for Paris 2024. The top-two in each of the Games events earn berths for their country for Paris 2024.

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