March 7, 2014
Canadian athletes at the Paralympic Games March 7 – 16!
Canada excelled this year at the XXII Winter Olympic Games held February 7 – 23, 2014. Today it’s time to cheer on our Paralympic athletes who will compete in Sochi, Russia this week from March 7 – 16, 2014! Each Olympic year, both the Paralympic and Olympic Games are held two weeks apart in the same host country and use the same sporting venues and organizing committee.
Olympic Wrap up:
Last month Canadian athletes won 25 Olympic medals; 10 gold, 10 silver, and 5 bronze. This put Canada 4th in the overall medal count, and 3rd in gold medals! Some highlights included Alex Bioldeau of Quebec in moguls, along with Kaillie Humphries of Alberta and Heather Moyse of PEI in bobsled all defending gold medals from Vancouver, 2010. Double gold medals were won in both men’s and women’s hockey and curling. Sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe of Quebec shared the podium winning gold and silver in moguls. Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa of British Columbia worked together to win gold and silver in skicross. Figure skater Patrick Chan of Ontario, and speed skater Denny Morrison of British Columbia each earned two medals in separate events!
2014 Paralympic Games:
The 2014 delegation of Canadian Paralympic athletes should prove just as riveting! For a great list of athletes to watch for this coming week, check out The Star’s bio page on each of the Paralympic medal hopefuls. Sports include: sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, para-alpine skiing, para-snowboarding, para-Nordic skiing and biathlon. Athletes fall into five major classifications: visually impaired, physical disabilities, amputee, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, and Les Autres – inclusive of all other disabilities (eg. Muscular Dystrophy).
The first athletic games for people with disabilities began after World War II to improve the quality of life for those injured during the war. The first Paralympic summer games were held in Rome, Italy in 1960; and the first Paralympic winter games were hosted in Sweden in 1976. Today, the value of sportsmanship, active lifestyle and worldwide recognition for high performance athletics extend far beyond the rehabilitative benefits of sport.
Safety Concerns in Sochi:
Several countries have raised safety concerns for the wellbeing of their athletes, and spectators attending the Paralympic Games. In the two weeks since the Olympic Games Russia has sent soldiers to occupy the Crimea region of the Ukraine, only 475 km from Sochi on the Black Sea. Canada, The United States, France, and Great Britain will not be sending dignitaries to attend the Paralympic opening ceremony. Canada has also recalled its Ambassador to Russia, and joined the boycott of an upcoming G8 summit to be hosted by Russia at the Olympic facilities in Sochi.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee says that the athletes are safe, and that there are no plans to withdraw our athletes. Canadian athletes have sat out of Olympic Games in the past, when we were among 60 countries to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. For now, returning 2014 Olympic athletes have commented that it is important for their Paralympic counterparts to share the opportunity to compete on the world stage after so many months of vigorous training leading up to the Games. The International Paralympic Committee has said it hopes for a peaceful resolution and for the host country to respect the Olympic Truce – an existing United Nations resolution asking nations to cease hostilities during Olympic events.
Given the challenges, it is with extra emphasis that we cheer on our Canadian Paralympic athletes this week! They have worked hard to represent Canada!