OTTAWA – Two-time Paralympic Games team member Tony Walby was elected chair of the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Athletes’ Council on a platform to continue to build the council’s influence in the Canadian sport system.
Walby, a now retired visually impaired athlete who placed seventh and ninth in Para judo at the 2012 and 2016 Games, defeated two other candidates for the position: wheelchair basketball player Erica Gavel and Para cyclist Ross Wilson, both still currently on their respective national teams.
The election was held on Monday evening.
‘’I’ve been very active on the council and I want to keep us on the path we’ve been moving forward with our strategic framework and plan,’’ said Walby, 45, a council member for the past four years who will also now have a seat on the CPC Board of Directors.
'’This will not only continue to increase our already strong position within CPC but also help build rapport and ties to our domestic sport stakeholders such as the COC, NSOs, AthletesCAN and Sport Canada.’’
Taking up judo at the age of seven, Walby fought alongside sighted athletes into his mid-thirties despite the effects of cone dystrophy, a deteriorating genetic condition. For 16 years, Walby was a member of the national able-bodied judo team. In his last year of competition, he earned the title of national heavyweight champion.
Walby retired from able-bodied sport at age 35, around the same time he was declared legally blind. A 12-time senior national medallist in sighted judo, Walby quickly excelled in visually impaired judo. His first success was a double gold performance at the 2011 Parapan American Championships. He also won a bronze medal at the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan Am Games.
‘’Combining my knowledge of the Canadian sport system and the sport and political landscape internationally, I believe that I have a robust foundation that will help bring our mandate and voice as an Athletes’ Council forward,’’ he said.
He replaces Chelsey Gotell as chair, whose four-year term came to an end. Gotell, a retired Para swimmer, is also head of the International Paralympic Committee’s Athletes’ Council.
‘’Tony has a strong understanding of the domestic and international sport systems, which is very valuable in a role of this nature,’’ said Gotell. ‘’ I really look forward to seeing how he will guide the Athletes’ Council and continue to elevate our position over the next four years.’’
Walby paid homage to Gotell on her term as chair.
‘’I would like to thank Chelsey for her commitment, her collegiality and her hard work over the past term,’’ said Walby. ‘’I wish her the best in her future endeavours and I hope to build on the strong foundations she helped create.’’
Walby works as a computer engineer with Correctional Service Canada. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two young children.