Canada plans to make a racquet at Parapan American Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 15, 2023

Medal contenders in Para table tennis, Para badminton and wheelchair tennis


Wheelchair tennis player and cancer survivor Natalia Lanucha of Pincourt, Que. knows the road to the Paralympic Games goes through Santiago, Chile at the Parapan American Games set for November 17-26.

The Polish-born Lanucha is making her major Games debut this month and is one of six Canadian wheelchair tennis players, Canada’s largest ever groups in the sport at the Games. She’ll compete in both women’s singles and women’s doubles.

“I’m very excited,” she told The Suburban. “It will be different and interesting competing against the other countries. I am so pleased to get to represent Canada. I’m looking forward to the Opening Ceremonies and my first match.”

“It is my dream,” she added about going to the Paralympics. “I want to improve through my Parapan Games experience, compete in international tournaments and have the chance to be at the Paris Games.”

Also on the wheelchair tennis team are defending quad champion and Canada’s top international player Rob Shaw of North Bay, Ont., Annie Marie Dolinar of Deep River, Ont., Barry Henderson of Mission, B.C., Mitch McIntyre of Vancouver, and Thomas Venos of Anmore, B.C.

The wheelchair tennis tournament runs from November 19-25.

Eight of the nine players on the Para badminton team competed at the previous Games in 2019 at Lima, Peru. They are led by Paralympian Olivia Meier of Winnipeg who has been ranked as high as seventh in the world in women’s SL4 singles.

Meier is taking a break from her second year of law studies at the University of Ottawa to be at the Games. In her first year she studied Disability Law and Social Justice and her second-year courses also have a human rights focus.

The badminton team ranges in age from 20 to 62. Mikhail Bilenky, the oldest team member, is a scientist at the B.C. Cancer Agency, who became paralyzed due to illness at age 24 and moved to Canada in 1998.

Yuka Chokyu of Vancouver also brings a wealth of experience. She was a three-time Paralympian in wheelchair tennis before switching to Para badminton.

Para badminton action runs from November 22-26., one of only two sports on the last day of the Games.

There’s more experience in Para table tennis led by Stephanie Chan of Vancouver and Ian Kent of Eastern Passage, B.C., both competing at their fifth Parapan American Games in Santiago. Wheelchair basketball player Patrick Anderson will make his sixth Games appearance while two other wheelchair basketball members, Cindy Ouellet and Bo Hedges, are also entering a fifth Games.

Chan, now 66, was Canada’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer at Lima 2019 and won bronze four years after a gold performance in women’s singles at the Toronto 2015 Games. Kent has seven Parapan Am medals to his name, two more than Chan.

The other team members – Peter Isherwood of Vancouver, Muhammad Mudassar of Brampton, Ont., and Asad Hussain Syed of Toronto – also have Parapan Am experience.

Para table tennis competition runs November 16-21, and is the only sport to commence prior to the Opening Ceremony.

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