Canadian wheelchair rugby team nominated to Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 02, 2023

Twelve athletes to represent Canada in Santiago, Chile from November 17-26

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OTTAWA – A team of 12 wheelchair rugby athletes have been nominated to represent Canada at the Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Wheelchair Rugby Canada announced Monday.  

Santiago 2023 Canadian Parapan Am Team – WHEELCHAIR RUGBY

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

An experienced roster will be heading to Santiago, with 10 members returning from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games team, where Canada finished fifth. Patrice Simard and Mike Whitehead are the longest-serving members of the team, with six and five Paralympic Games appearances to their names, while Rio Kanda Kovac and Matt Debly will be participating in their first multi-sport Games.

“Since the world championships last October, we’ve been growing a lot as a team,” said Debly. “There are new players mixed in with returning players, and we’re all eager and hungry to punch our ticket to Paris. While I’ve been a member of the team for a few years, this will be my first Parapan American Games and I’m excited to compete. Paris is the goal, but our focus is on Santiago and taking care of business.”

Six players are Paralympic medallists, with Canada’s last podium appearance a silver in 2012. Eight were also part of the silver-medal winning squad at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games.

“It’s exciting to see the talent and experience up and down the lineup,” said Trevor Hirschfield, co-captain of the team and a four-time Paralympian. “The only thing left to do is run it up, fill them in and qualify for Paris.”

The wheelchair rugby tournament in Santiago will take place November 18-23, with the winner earning a spot in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games next summer.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Anthony Létourneau, Tokyo 2020 Paralympian. “First, to punch our ticket to Paris. And second, to build up momentum for the important year ahead of us.”

At the Parapan Am Games in Lima four years ago, Canada finished second to USA and later earned its ticket for the Paralympic Games at a last-chance qualifier. The team finished fifth at the Tokyo Games, a placement it matched a year later at the 2022 world championships. Canada is currently No. 5 in the World Wheelchair Rugby World Rankings.

“Congratulations to all 12 athletes nominated for the wheelchair rugby team,” said Josh Vander Vies, co-chef de mission of the Santiago 2023 Canadian Parapan Am Team. “We know how important the Parapan Am Games is on this team’s road to Paris and how much work they have put in, and we will do everything we can to support them on the ground at the Games.”

“A very warm welcome to the entire wheelchair rugby team,” said Karolina Wisniewska, co-chef de mission. “This is an experienced team with clear goals in Santiago, and it will no doubt be a very exciting, nail biting tournament. I cannot wait to cheer on the entire team in Santiago.”

The Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games will take place November 17-26, 2023 in Santiago, Chile. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 140 athletes.

Prior to being officially named to the Canadian Parapan Am Team, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

The current list of athletes nominated to the team can be found HERE. The approved final roster will be announced closer to the start of the Games.

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