The newest member of the 2016 Canadian Paralympic team has been officially welcomed by the Shooting Federation of Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Doug Blessin from Port Coquitlan, B.C. will compete in his second Paralympics in the R4 air rifle standing and R5 air rifle prone events.
Blessin finished in the top 25 in both events in London and has been working hard to improve his standing this time around.
“After making the Paralympic team for London in 2012 and not finishing to my potential, I doubled my efforts and training for the next quad, determined to keep besting all of my previous results,” Blessin said.
The 43-year-old originally got involved in parasport when he made the wheelchair rugby team after sustaining a spinal cord injury in December 1995. After taking some time off from his athletic career when he had children, Blessin found his competitive edge in para-shooting at the age of 37. Since finding a home with the Canadian shooting team, he has worked closely with head coach Rick Ward, who believes Blessin can bring a medal back home with him.
“I have worked with Doug for six years and have seen first-hand how his strength of character, self-discipline and raw talent have carried him over many competitive hurdles and earn a spot in two events at the Paralympic Games,” said Ward. “Doug has had a difficult year leading in, but I expect him to rise to the occasion and be in the fight for medals in Rio.”
Blessin was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and the battle to regain his health took him away from the sport for six months. His inspiring comeback has him focused and confident heading into the Games.
“Since beating that and getting back to health, I am meeting my goals and fully expect to hit my stride and place well in Rio,” said Blessin. ”My focus and determination have never been stronger.”
Canada’s lone para-shooting representative will compete in the events in Rio from September 8 and 14. You can follow his journey on Twitter @DougBlessin.
I think I’ve got my work cut out for me… YIKES! pic.twitter.com/kYVBtRmff8
— Doug Blessin (@DougBlessin) May 11, 2016
Photo Credit: Mathew Murnaghan // Canadian Paralympic Committee