OTTAWA – Three accomplished Paralympians are joining the Canadian team for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Canadian Paralympic Committee announced on Tuesday. Josh Vander Vies (boccia) will act as assistant chef de mission, with Karolina Wisniewska (Para alpine skiing) and Shacarra Orr (sitting volleyball) joining as athlete ambassadors. The trio complete an athlete support team led by chef de mission Stephanie Dixon.
As part of their role at the Games, Vander Vies, Wisniewska, and Orr – all retired high-performance athletes – will provide support to chef de mission Dixon and the entire Canadian Paralympic Team, including athletes, coaches, staff, and stakeholders. This includes contributing to team cohesion and promoting a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment. Fully bilingual, Vander Vies will also act as an official spokesperson in French.
“I am so excited to welcome Josh, Karolina, and Shacarra to the team for Tokyo 2020! I know they will contribute so much with their varied and vast experiences, and passion for our athletes and the Paralympic Movement,” said Dixon, a 19-time Paralympic medallist in swimming. “The Paralympic Games are the pinnacle of Para sport and our athletes have worked so hard to compete at their best there. The four of us have all been there before, and want to be a resource for our athletes, be their biggest cheerleaders, and do everything we can to make sure their Paralympic Games are a great experience.”
Vander Vies is an accomplished boccia player, competing at Athens 2004 and London 2012 and winning the bronze medal in pairs alongside Marco Dispaltro at the latter Games. He currently is a lawyer in Vancouver.
Wisniewska, who was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2017, captured eight Paralympic medals in alpine skiing. She competed at the Nagano 1998 (two silver medals), Salt Lake City 2002 (two silver and two bronze), and Vancouver 2010 Games (two bronze). Originally from Calgary, she now lives in Ottawa.
Orr is returning to the Canadian support team after acting as the athlete ambassador at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games, in what was a pilot project for the upcoming Tokyo Games. The recent University of Calgary graduate competed for Canada at both the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. It was at Rio 2016 that Canada’s women’s sitting volleyball team made its Paralympic debut, finishing seventh.
Vander Vies, Wisniewska, and Orr were selected for their positions following interviews with a pool of athlete alumni applicants.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games run from August 25 to September 6. The athletes selected to represent Canada in Japan will be announced later this year.