As Canada’s Paralympians get settled back home from the 2022 Games in Beijing, they have reflected on their experiences. It was another great Paralympic Winter Games for Canada, which concluded on March 13, collecting 25 medals and taking third spot in the overall medal rankings.
Thirty-seven of the 48 members on the Canadian Paralympic Team earned at least one medal, including Para nordic skier Brian McKeever, already Canada’s most decorated winter Paralympian, hitting the 20-medal mark in his career with three more gold and Canada winning its first medals in Para snowboard as Tyler Turner and Lisa DeJong reached the podium.
For Canadian athletes interviewed recently by their hometown media, the common theme is that sights are set firmly on Milan 2026 to improve on already exceptional performances.
Rob Armstrong of Canada’s Para ice hockey team told Guelph Today he’ll remember the elation of being united with his teammates through thick and thin more than the silver medal.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the game we wanted,” he said about the loss in the final to the U.S. “But we’re such a tight knit group and we all love each other, we were proud of each other and we were proud to represent Canada on that stage. I wouldn’t do it with anyone else there.”
At 22, Para alpine skier Alexis Guimond already has medals in two consecutive Games and he told the Toronto Observer he’ll have a few more opportunities to win his coveted gold.
“Winning bronze meant a lot to me, but that’s not what I was aiming for,” he said. “It was kind of gut-wrenching because I know that I have the skill to be on the top step.”
In 2018, Para nordic skier Natalie Wilkie burst on the international stage with three medals at age 17. She improved to four medals in Beijing and she already talked about the future to Lakeland Today.
“I was only able to join [the Para nordic team] four years ago, but in those four years this team has pretty much become my social life, my friends, my family, and I'm pretty stoked on how awesome of a Paralympics we had collectively as a team … I’m really excited to see where this team goes in the next few years as well.”
Para snowboarder Tyler Turner can remember every detail of his intense snowboard cross gold medal ride. It was Canada’s first medal in the sport that joined the Paralympic program in 2014.
“In turn four I got a little peek back and I saw that I was quite a ways out front,” Turner told My Comox Valley Now. “Which is probably the worst thing I could have done, my knees went jello immediately and I kind of had a full panic attack for the remainder of the course.”
Canada’s wheelchair curling team went through a rollercoaster ride to get its bronze medal in Beijing. Canada has now won a medal at all five Games in which the sport has been on the program. This year the team was galvanized by support from across Canada through its trying times.
“Reading the messages from friends and family certainly gave us the boost we needed at important times during the event,’’ team member Collinda Joseph told Stittsville Central. ‘’It’s hard attending the Paralympics without friends and family and to know they were getting up in the middle of the night to watch our games was inspiring!’’
And in return the athletes brought pride to a nation.