DARTMOUTH, N.S. – Ben Brown was one of Canada’s top international wheelchair racers for many years but this week he’ll show his nautical skills as a member the national Para canoe team at the world championships for able-bodied and Para paddlers, taking place in Dartmouth, N.S.
Canada is fielding a nine-member squad which includes 2020 Paralympic Games team members Brianna Hennessy and Mathieu St-Pierre.
It is no surprise Brown, from Weston, N.S., is now a two-sport national team athlete.
Diagnosed with a spinal cord injury after an accident in 2006 while training for motocross, Brown didn’t lose his competitive spirit. Before track, he got involved in wheelchair basketball, Para ice hockey and became the first paraplegic to race motocross.
Now the 34-year-old is testing his mettle on international waters.
“I’m a paddler and I’m loving this,” Brown told the Annapolis Valley Register. “It’s rejuvenated me. I’m really loving the challenge and it’s just something new and exciting.”
Another new face on the team is Yves Bourque of Bécancour, Que., a two-time Paralympian in cross country sit skiing.
“It required plenty of effort and lots of work (to make the worlds team),” Bourque, 56, told Le Courrier du Sud last month after team trials. ‘’Now it’s paying off with some good results.”
St-Pierre, of Shawinigan, Que., is the top medal hope for the men. After a fifth-place finish at Tokyo 2020 last year, St-Pierre collected his first career World Cup win this past May in Poznan, Poland.
On the women’s side, Canada has two solid entries. Hennessy of Ottawa, who only took up the sport in 2019, collected two medals at that World Cup in Poland.
And Erica Scarff of Mississauga, Ont., a Paralympian in 2016, returns to the national fold after dealing with injuries in a new boat and a recent World Cup gold.
“It’s a once-in-a-career opportunity to have a worlds in Canada. It’ll be fantastic to race in front of my friends and family and I’m really excited about it,” said Scarff, a recent graduate in kinesiology at Brock University.
The 2022 Para Canoe World Championships take place August 3-7 in Dartmouth, N.S. For more information visit Canoe22.com.
Yves Bourque – Club de canotage du Shawinigan
Benjamin Brown – Maskwa Aquatic Club
Gabriel Ferron-Bouius – Rideau Canoe Club
Miguel Garcia Sanchez – Balmy Beach Canoe Club
Stefan Samolia – Balmy Beach Canoe Club
Mathieu St-Pierre – Club de canotage du Shawinigan
Dave Waters – Maskwa Canoe Club
Brianna Hennessy – Ottawa River Canoe Club
Erica Scarff – Mississauga Canoe Club