Excitement for Canada’s co-chefs one year out of Paris 2024

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 28, 2023

“The biggest celebration of Paralympic sport since London 2012”


OTTAWA – Canada’s co-chefs de mission for the 2024 Paralympic Games expressed excitement one year out from the Opening Ceremony, scheduled for right in the heart of Paris between Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées.

Paralympians Karolina Wisniewska and Josh Vander Vies, the first ever co-chefs for a Paralympic Games for Canada, know all too well that 365 days is not as long as it may seem.

“When I think of a year out to the Games, that always reminds me of when I was an athlete,” said Wisniewska. “For an athlete who’s training for the Paralympic Games, it’s the most important year. The athletes are now in the fine-tuning stages.”

With some important quota spots earned by Canadian athletes at world championships this summer, Vander Vies already has Games fever.

“It’s so exciting,” said the 38-year-old Vancouver lawyer. “It’s hard to believe that it’s only one year to Paris and we’re just so happy to see some of those qualification spots getting earned by Canada.

“We are looking forward to the biggest celebration of Paralympic sport and athletes since London 2012.”

At those London Games, Vander Vies won the bronze medal in boccia BC4 pairs with Marco Dispaltro. Wisniewska, 47, is a three-time winter Paralympian (1998, 2002 and 2010) and winner of eight Paralympic medals in Para alpine skiing.

The decision to have two co-chefs was spearheaded by the Canadian Paralympic Athletes’ Council as it examined the long list of duties for the leadership role at a Games. That ramps up even more in the year leading up to the Games.

“I think it’s about making sure that we deepen our knowledge of the athletes, of the coaches, and other staff around them,” said Wisniewska. “I always repeat that because the full team is really essential. The full team are the people who’ve been on this road to Paris with these athletes this entire time and their daily training environment. So I think it’s to deepen our connection.

“Also any issues that we may see come up, this is the time that it starts to happen. Our involvement will only grow between now and Paris. This is a key period for Josh and me to speak on behalf of our team, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and the Paralympic Movement in Canada and really raise that awareness among Canadians.”

Paris has a reputation for not being the most accessible major world city, particularly for those like Vander Vies who move in an electric wheelchair. He is hoping the Games are an opportunity to shine a light on accessibility and inclusion for all people with a disability.

“We’re hoping that Paris is going to rise to the occasion and exceed the very high standard of London,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to some of the most athletic and competitive disabled citizens of our planet converging on Paris, and saying, okay, we’re here. We’re ready to go.

“Sport is the vehicle that is driving this, but we always hope that it goes way beyond sport,” he continued. “It’s just so critical to not miss the moment to help the world understand that. Just because you’re disabled you don’t have to be a Paralympian in order to get the baseline of your worth.”

It appears both co-chefs are preparing a recipe for success and are prepared to tackle anything that may arise over the next year.

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will take place August 28 to September 8 next summer.

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