VERNON, B.C. – Wheelchair curling champion Sonja Gaudet says her induction into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, set for Sunday, could not have been possible without a vast network support system from recovery to the gold medal podium at the Paralympic Games.
The 55-year-old Gaudet was part of a group of athletes and builders that were announced to the Hall of Fame in 2019 that also included wheelchair rugby co-founder Duncan Campbell. The ceremony will be held virtually on October 3. (For more information visit: http://www.sportshall.ca/order-of-sport/induction-celebration.html?lang=EN?lang=EN)
Gaudet was injured after she fell off a horse in 1996. She was diagnosed with a complete T5-T6 paraplegic spinal cord injury. At the time, she was a young wife and mother with a three and a six-year-old child. She says finding peer support and living an active lifestyle played a crucial role in helping her cope with her new daily reality.
‘’So many people and organizations have been part of my life along the way,’’ said Gaudet, also a three-time world champion.
‘’First and foremost, family and friends and the local community when I had my accident. All the regional, provincial and national support for my wheelchair curling including the coaches who were passionate about growing this sport.’’
Gaudet was part of Canada’s champion foursomes at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games where wheelchair curling made its debut in Torino and at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games before a cheering hometown crowd. She made it three in a row at the 2014 Games in Sochi where she was named Canada’s flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony.
‘’This induction has definitely brought everything full circle for me,’’ said Gaudet, who has worked the past three years for the Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association as a Regional Universal Access Tourism Specialist. ‘’It really gives more meaning to my story and how I overcame my accident that will hopefully inspire others in my situation. When I look back it’s just been an incredible experience that I’ve had.’’
Of course, Gaudet was part of a powerhouse Canadian team that dominated the sport for nearly a decade. Team skip Jim Armstrong and Ina Forrest were on two of her three Paralympic title teams as was coach Chris Rea.
‘’I had amazing teammates,’’ she said. ‘’They were incredible athletes and friends. We always had great team dynamics and it just worked. I don’t know if we were the best five skilled players, but we were the best five players that worked so well together.
‘’That and the leadership from Jim and Chris is what was so essential to success.’’
Gaudet watched with great interest the recent Paralympic Games held in Tokyo. She is delighted how the movement is gaining public interest in Canada and around the world.
‘’I understand the gold medals bring attention but for me it was also so much about bringing the movement forward.’’
Note: The 65th Virtual Order of Sport Awards, presented by Everest, streaming live on Sunday, October 3, 2021. For more information visit: http://www.sportshall.ca/order-of-sport/induction-celebration.html?lang=EN?lang=EN