BIRMINGHAM, England – Led by co-Opening Ceremony flag bearer Josh Cassidy and multiple Paralympic champion Aurélie Rivard, a record 27 Canadian Para athletes are among the 276 Team Canada members set to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games taking place July 28 to August 8 in Great Britain’s second largest city.
The Commonwealth Games is the only major international multi-sport event that integrates Para sport and non-Para events, and the 2022 Games will showcase the largest Para sport program ever with new sports added including 3X3 wheelchair basketball.
Three wheelchair racers on the 10-member Para athletics Canadian squad are headed to a third Games: Cassidy (2010 and 2014), Alexandre Dupont and Tristan Smyth (both 2014 and 2018). It’s a second Commonwealth Games for Jessica Frotten, also on the 2018 squad.
The Para athletics events at the Games, scheduled for July 30 to August 7, are the 100m, 1500m and marathon in wheelchair racing and the discus throw and shot put.
“What makes these Games so special for me, is that it’s a combined major athletic event with both able bodied and Para side,” said Cassidy. ‘’Getting to compete at an inclusive international event with all my teammates is truly special.”
In Para swimming, Katarina Roxon adds a fourth Commonwealth Games to her resume which also includes four Paralympic Games. Rivard searches for her first gold in her third Commonwealth Games appearance after a silver in 2018 and a bronze in 2014. Rivard is a 10-time Paralympic Games medallist including five gold.
The Para swimming events are the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 200m individual medley. The races are scheduled July 29 to August 3.
The sole Canadian entry in Para triathlon at the Commonwealth Games will be visually impaired athlete Jessica Tuomela with her guide Emma Skaug. They race on July 31 and for them it’s a big season highlight.
“The Commonwealth Games are our big goal for the summer,” Tuomela said. “Those Games are one of those opportunities you can represent your sport on a bigger stage, especially with my category included. So for me it’s really important to be there to carry this sport forward because it is so new.”
Finally the men’s and women’s 3X3 wheelchair basketball teams have four members each including scoring machine Kady Dandeneau for the women and four-time Paralympian Bo Hedges for the men. Both tournaments are July 29 to August 2.
“I am super excited to go,’’ said Tara Llanes, captain of the senior women’s team. ‘’I think we have a solid team. I’ve never participated in a 3-on-3 tournament before, and I think being part of a Games with stand-up basketball and being really integrated is really cool.”
Para sport made its Commonwealth debut with demonstration events at the 1994 Games in Victoria, B.C. It was officially included for the first time in 2002 when the Games were in Manchester, England. The number of events has grown from 15 to 22 to 38 to 41 through the last four Games.
Para cycling, Para powerlifting, Para lawn bowls and Para table tennis are also on the Birmingham program.
CBC Sports will provide comprehensive broadcast and streaming coverage of the 12-day multi-sport event on all its platforms.
The complete list of Canadian Para athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games is:
David Johnson, Victoria
Zachary Gingras, Markham, Ont.
Tristan Smyth, Maple Ridge, B.C.
Josh Cassidy, Port Elgin, Ont.
Jessica Frotten, Whitehorse
Sarah Mickey, Redcliff, Alta.
Alexandre Dupont, Clarenceville, Ont.
Nandini Shama, Brampton, Ont.
Thomas Normandeau, Peace River, Alta.
Natalie Thirsk, Edmonton.
Nicholas Bennett, Parksville, B.C.
Camille Bérubé, Gatineau, Que.
Alexander Elliot, Kitchener, Ont.
Danielle Kisser, Delta, B.C.
Aurélie Rivard, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
Katarina Roxon, Kippens, N.L.
Nicolas-Guy Turbide, Quebec City.
Jessica Tuomela, Sault St Marie, Ont.
Emma Skaug (guide for Tuomela), Victoria
3X3 wheelchair basketball
Colin Higgins, Rothesay, N.B.
Bo Hedges, Wonowon, B.C.
Garrett Ostepchuk, Regina
Vincent Dallaire, Quebec City
Kady Dandeneau, Pender Island, B.C.
Élodie Tessier, St-Germain de Grantham, Que.
Tamara Steeves, Mississauga, Ont.
Tara Llanes, North Vancouver