Canada’s wheelchair rugby team nominated to Paris 2024 Paralympic Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

July 11, 2024

Twelve athletes, including nine Paralympians, to represent Canada; Paris 2024 Paralympic Games takes place August 28 to September 8

A team of 12 wheelchair rugby athletes have been nominated to represent Canada at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games this summer, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Wheelchair Rugby Canada announced Thursday.  

Paris 2024 Canadian Paralympic Team – WHEELCHAIR RUGBY

  1. Cody Caldwell – Peterborough, ON
  2. Patrice Dagenais – Embrun, ON
  3. Matt Debly – Windsor, ON
  4. Joel Ewert – Prince George, BC
  5. Byron Green – Victoria, BC
  6. Trevor Hirschfield – Parksville, BC
  7. Rio Kanda Kovac – Toronto, ON
  8. Anthony Létourneau – Boisbriand, QC
  9. Zak Madell – Okotoks, AB
  10. Travis Murao – Toronto, ON
  11. Eric Rodrigues – Mississauga, ON
  12. Mike Whitehead – Windsor, ON

The team includes nine returning members from Tokyo 2020. Mike Whitehead will be making his sixth Paralympic Games appearance, followed by Trevor Hirschfield and Travis Murao heading to their fifth Games, and Patrice Dagenais and Zak Madell at their fourth.

All five veteran players are Paralympic medallists. Canada’s last podium finish at the Games was a silver in 2012. 

“What an amazing moment in time to be part of Paralympic history in Paris,” said Whitehead. “I can feel the excitement and can’t wait to get on the court.”

Three athletes will be making their Paralympic debuts – Matt Debly, Joel Ewert, and Rio Kanda Kovac. For Ewert, it will also be his maiden multi-sport Games appearance. Both Debly and Kanda Kovac were part of the silver-medal winning squad at the Parapan Am Games last November.

“I’m very excited heading into Paris since it’s my first Paralympics!” said Debly. “I look forward to experiencing the Games and the Village; seeing all the athletes from around the world together to compete for their countries. I can’t wait to take the court on the biggest stage and represent this amazing country in our pursuit of a gold medal.”

At the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Canada finished fifth, a result it matched a year later at the 2022 world championships. This roster also recently was sixth at a very tightly contested Canada Cup in Richmond, BC, a pre-Games tournament that brings together the top countries in the world.

Canada, currently ranked fifth in the world, earned its spot for the Games via a last-chance qualification tournament in New Zealand in March, finishing second to Australia. The top three nations at the event secured Paralympic places. 

“The team is excited to compete in Paris next month,” said Dagenais. “The competition is stronger than ever, but we are confident that our preparation is on point and we are ready to take on the challenge of facing the best teams in the world. We believe the Games will be a great experience and we are thrilled to compete in front of a crowd of wheelchair rugby fans once again.”

Wheelchair rugby will take place at Champ de Mars Arena in Paris, located near the Eiffel Tower. Canada will compete in Pool A alongside the United States (world No. 2), Japan (No. 3), and Germany (No. 9).  Preliminary play will run August 29-31, with the semifinals September 1, and medal games September 2.

“Congratulations to all 12 athletes nominated to represent Canada in wheelchair rugby,” said Josh Vander Vies, co-chef de mission, Paris 2024 Canadian Paralympic Team. “This is a team with so many experienced Paralympians who have embodied national and disability pride while competing on the international stage for years. Combined with the talented newcomers, Canada will be well represented in Paris with this group of athletes. We wish the team the best of luck.”

“I am so pleased to be welcoming Canada’s nominated wheelchair rugby players to the Canadian Paralympic Team,” said Karolina Wisniewska, co-chef de mission, Paris 2024 Canadian Paralympic Team. “The wheelchair rugby tournament in Paris is going to be so fierce and exciting and I’m really looking forward to cheering this team on. I know the whole country will be behind them as well!”

Prior to being officially named to the Canadian Paralympic Team, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Paralympic Committee. The current list of nominated athletes can be found HERE. The approved final roster will be announced closer to the start of the Games. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 130 athletes.

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will begin with the Opening Ceremony on August 28 and continue through September 8. Audiences can tune in for CBC/Radio-Canada’s coverage of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 8 on CBC, CBC Gem, CBC’s Paris 2024 website (cbc.ca/paris2024) and the CBC Paris 2024 app in English and on ICI TÉLÉ, ICI TOU.TV, Radio-Canada.ca/paris2024, and on the Radio-Canada Paralympiques app in French. 

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