OTTAWA – Last week, Paralympian Pamela LeJean of Cape Breton, N.S., a two-time world championship medallist in shot put, announced her retirement from competitive sport.
LeJean, the great-great granddaughter of a rum runner from the French Islands St-Pierre et Miquelon off the Canadian East Coast, is headed to Tennessee to live with her fiancée who owns a family restaurant business in the Southern state.
Before she packed her bags for the next chapter in her life, the 34-year-old LeJean shared some memories from her career in high performance sport. That included a fourth-place finish in shot put at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Best friends on the national team:
“Ness Murby and Eva Fejes are my closest friends on the team for sure. We chat and make time to see each other the most during meets and when I’m travelling in B.C. They always come out and see me.
‘’Jenn Brown is one of my favourites. We were an awesome pair. We have the same darkish and dry humour, so we get along really well. When I moved to Toronto, Renee Foessel became a great friend. We trained together for the last two years.’’
Impact of coach Ken Hall:
“I’ve known Ken since the beginning of my career but he started coaching me in Toronto. He was usually the international throwing coach and we had a kind of love-hate relationship. We were both stubborn. When I moved to Toronto, I wasn’t sure that was the best decision. But it was a great decision. He is so much fun and makes the best of every situation, especially when things gets stressful. Cool, fun and professional.’’
Her role as a Para athlete:
“We’re given this spotlight and the word ‘’inspiration’’ is thrown around so much. I hate having that word attached to our sport. But it’s super awesome we can do our sport and also be a role model for a generation of kids with disabilities or even any type of issues. We show that it is possible and it’s cool to take advantage of that. We have an impact whether it’s talking to kids, signing an autograph, or responding to a comment on Facebook.’’
The importance of health and fitness for people with disabilities:
“Being fit allows you to have a lot more energy to go out and do things. To be involved in sport, just recreationally, is something a lot of people with disabilities just don’t think about for various reasons.’’
The meaning of her tattoos:
“I have a super special one in my upper inside left arm. It’s got my family name LeJean, my mother’s maiden name Kosick, and all the flowers are growing all around the names. I absolutely love that one.’’
As she stores her javelin, discus and shot put, LeJean, who became a paraplegic at 17 after a car accident, feels Paralympic sport both internationally and in Canada is headed in the right direction.
'’The London Games in 2012 showed where we can be but overall there ‘s still a ways to go,’’ she said. ‘’In Canada our talent and support is amazing.
‘’Some of the best Paralympians in the world are here.’’