A total of 170-200 Canadian athletes are expected to get the call to compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in September. Among this delegation are first-time Paralympians, who will have a burning desire to attain glory during their debut at the Games.
Here are five Canadian Paralympic rookies to keep track of during the Rio Games:
- Christine Gauthier, Paracanoe: The Dorval, Que. native has been a force in the K1 200-metre LTA (legs, trunk, and arms) by winning five world championships. She qualified for her first Paralympic Games with her performance at the 2015 World Championships in Italy as Paracanoe makes its debut. She will be a contender to medal in Rio. Read about how she overcame adversity to compete at the 2015 Worlds.
- Josh Farrell, shot put: Ten years after competing in able-bodied javelin in 2004 at the national level, the 31-year-old from Owen Sound, Ont. became a para-athlete in 2014. He earned gold in the men’s shot put at the 2015 Toronto Parapan American Games.*
- Miranda Biletski, wheelchair rugby: After missing out at playing at the Toronto Parapan Ams, the resident of Victoria, B.C. is keen to be a difference-maker for Canada in Rio. If Canada triumphs, she will be the first woman to ever win a wheelchair rugby gold medal. Biletski was featured on Episode 3 of the Road to Rio Podcast.
- Ben Moronchuk, wheelchair basketball: The 20-year-old from Edmonton, Alta was named to the Canadian senior men’s national team for the first time in late May. He is expected to be an offensive catalyst for a Canadian team featuring a blend of young talent and wheelchair basketball veterans.
- Gordie Michie, swimming: A record-setting performance in the 200-metre individual medley at the 2016 Canadian Para-Swimming Trials helped clinch the St. Thomas, Ont. native a spot on the Canadian Paralympic team. The S14 classification swimmer won gold in the 100-metre backstroke at the Toronto Para Pan Ams.
*The Canadian Paralympic Athletics team has not been officially named yet.
Photo of Gordie Michie: Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee