Andrew Haley competed at four Paralympic Games in his accomplished career, earning five medals in Para swimming.
He made his Paralympic debut at the age of 18 in 1992 and won a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle. He collected two more bronze medals at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games before claiming his first gold in the 400m medley relay four years later in Sydney. He also won his fourth bronze medal in 2000 in the 100m butterfly.
First diagnosed with cancer at the age of six years old, which was discovered after he broke his leg playing, Haley’s right leg was ultimately amputated above the knee. The cancer returned two years later, and he lost part of his lung. In both cases, Haley says he was given a 35 per cent chance of survival.
Since his retirement from competitive swimming in 2008, Haley has been an active member of the Paralympic Movement. He regularly shares his story and motivational message in public speaking engagements, and he hopes to encourage and inspire others to be involved.
Below we check in with Haley on his favourite memories and see what he’s up to now:
What did it mean to you to be able to represent Canada at the Paralympic Games?
A true honour. It's the pinnacle of the sport and I loved competing on the highest stage. There was nothing better than to wear the red and white and show I was among the best. I was also able to share the passion and energy from all my friends and family and it was a great time.
What are some of your favourite memories from competing for Canada?
Learning to be a champion. I loved to travel and hang out with teammates and I even became friendly with some of my competition. My best memory was winning the 4 x 100 medley and setting a world record in Sydney and helping the swim team win the meet and contribute to Canada's medal haul.
What is your proudest sporting achievement from your career?
I was able to win the 100 fly at the 1998 world champs. I was also able to win the 400 medley relay at the 2000 Games. I am also proud of swimming in four Games and competing at the highest level. It's also great to use my achievements as a motivational speaker and to help inspire all my audiences. I also help bring awareness on disabled sport in my home province of Nova Scotia.
What are you up to now?
I work at a Marketing Manager for Metrolinx (one of the biggest transit authorities in Canada). I also am a dad to two kids (Kristen 10, Kristofer, 4) and enjoy getting in the pool when I can.
What message would you share with current athletes on the road to the Tokyo Paralympic Games?
Never give up. You have trained too long and too hard to not push through now. I always used to tell myself during my race 'Allow yourself to be great" and that gave me the mindset to go after my gold medal moment. Go get yours.
Favourite summer activity: Swimming
Hero: Wayne Gretzky
Current TV show you are binge-watching: Line of Duty or the Olympics
Celebrity you would most want to have dinner with: Tony Robbins or Wayne Gretzky
Most used emoji: Happy face
Favourite Hobby: Swimming
Favourite Motto: ‘’Be better today than I was yesterday’’
Each month ‘where are they now’ will feature a different member of the Canadian Paralympic alumni community to hear some of their favourite memories and check in to find out what they’re up to now.