Countdown to 2019 ParaSport Games has begun in Durham Region

Multi-sport event coming to several area venues Feb. 8-10

DURHAM — What once seemed like a long-distance race has now become a sprint to the start line, says Don Terry, co-chair of the 2019 Ontario ParaSport Games.

Involved in the process of bringing the Games to Durham Region for the past two years, Terry, a 60-year-old Ajax resident and chair of the Sport Durham advisory committee, was fired up when the countdown to the Feb. 8-10 event hit 100 days on Nov. 1, an occasion marked by a celebration at Pickering High School.

After trying his hand at sitting volleyball, one of the sports on demonstration at the school that night, Terry explained there were many reasons Durham had the successful bid, including a long list of dedicated volunteers and quality venues.

“We looked at this event and said, for Durham, with the Abilities Centre, with Grandview, with WindReach Farm, these are all fantastic facilities that really encourage and celebrate inclusion, so that was a big leg-up for us,” he explained.

“I think it really raises our profile, both within the sporting event community, but also around accessibility and inclusion, as well,” he added. “It’s a really good opportunity for us to celebrate that but also raise awareness of what we have and raise awareness of what we need.”

Held every other year, the Games will attract about 300 athletes to the area to compete in 11 sports: boccia and sitting volleyball at the Abilities Centre; para-alpine and para-nordic skiing at Brimacombe; wheelchair rugby at Brooklin High School; wheelchair basketball at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre; goalball at Donald A. Wilson Secondary School; sledge hockey at the Iroquois Park Sports Centre; wheelchair and vision-impaired curling at the Oshawa Curling Club; and 5-a-side blind soccer at the Pickering Soccer Centre.

“Sometimes we’re so focused on what people can’t do that we forget to see all the things they can do,” Terry said. “That’s one of the great things about these Games, I think. We’ve adopted the hashtag #Paramazing, and I think people are really going to be amazed at what these athletes can do.”

Although he won’t be competing at these Games, Andrew Genge was at the countdown event to offer his support. The 30-year-old Oshawa native, who suffered a stroke at 15 after being tackled playing rugby, competed at the 2018 Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in March.

“What it’s meant to me, it pretty much gave me the opportunity to go to the Olympics, so this is huge,” Genge said, explaining the importance of parasports. “It was surreal,” he added of the experience in South Korea. “I can remember it like it was yesterday.”

Christina Swett, the sport technical chair for the Games, is a 32-year-old Abilities Centre employee who began playing wheelchair basketball about 10 years ago when injuries prevented her from playing standing sports. She’s played at the Ontario ParaSport Games herself and is excited to see them come to Durham.

“It’s a really big opportunity for the region to develop its parasports, providing that kind of exposure for people to learn about the sports, to experience the sports as much as they can, whether by watching or by playing, and hopefully provides some kind of boost to get some of the sports more available in the region,” she said. “We’re going to have a whole gamut of competition. There’s going to be lots to watch and a lot of exciting things happening. We’re pretty pumped by it.”

Published: Nov 08, 2018 by Brian McNair Ajax News Advertiser

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