With a pair of berths on the line for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Wheelchair Basketball Canada has selected 24 athletes from the men’s and women’s national wheelchair basketball teams for nomination to represent Canada at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
The organization also proudly unveiled a new mobile-friendly website to give sport fans access to all of the latest information on Canada’s National Teams throughout their quests to reach the top of the podium on home soil.
The Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games is a crucial tournament for both Canada’s men’s and women’s national wheelchair basketball teams since it serves as a direct qualifier for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The Canadian men’s team is the defending London 2012 Paralympic champion and must finish amongst the top two teams in Toronto 2015 in order to qualify for Rio 2016. They last won bronze in 2011 and silver in 2007 at the Parapan Am Games.
“It’s a rare and special privilege to compete in front of family and friends in a big international competition with so much at stake. We are prepared and excited to have all of Canada cheering for us when we get on court and look forward to showcasing all of the elite skill and determination that make our sport and our athletes great,” said Steve Bialowas, interim head coach of Canada’s men’s team.
On the women’s side, Team Canada sits atop the world rankings as the reigning world champion, and must finish amongst the top three teams in Toronto 2015 in order to punch their ticket to Rio in 2016. They captured back-to-back silver medals at the Parapan Am Games in 2007 and 2011.
“Winning the world championship last year in Toronto, and getting to play in the same venue that we will be competing in come August, gives us some momentum heading into the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games. All of Team Canada is strongly united by our ultimate goal of qualifying for the Paralympics and we remain steadfast in our collective desire to be the best in the world,” said Bill Johnson, head coach of Canada’s women’s team.
The Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games will take place August 7 to 15. Canada is expected to send approximately 220 athletes to the Games and has set a goal of finishing in the top three nations in the total medal count. Qualification is ongoing and the full team will be officially unveiled in July 2015.
“And our Canadian team continues to grow,” said Team Canada’s Chef de Mission, Elisabeth Walker-Young. “With the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams being named today, we are well on our way to the largest Team Canada ever fielded in Canadian Paralympic history. Our wheelchair basketball players are leaders and role models for excellence and winning. I welcome each player and look forward to seeing you all in action. Go Canada!”
The Canadian men’s team is currently training in Toronto until June 6. Next up for the Canadian women’s team will be a training camp in Winnipeg, Man. From June 15 to 28. Afterwards both teams will travel to Europe in early July and compete in the World Team Cup July 10 to 12. Final Parapan Am Games preparations are slated to take place at Brock University, July 25 to August 2 for the men, and July 27 to August 2 for the women.
“In pursuit of the podium this summer, Canada’s wheelchair basketball teams are ready to capture the hearts and minds of Canadian sports fans from coast to coast. That’s why we are thrilled to introduce our new mobile-friendly website as the face of our digital brand ahead of the Toronto 2015 Games. It enables all of our fans to experience from any computer, tablet or smartphone the exhilarating action and grit that define the sport,” said Wendy Gittens, executive director of Wheelchair Basketball Canada.
The athletes named to the team are: (athlete/coach hometowns indicated / athletes with Parapan Am Games experience denoted with a *):
Team Canada Men
#4 - Deion Green (Victoria, B.C.)
#5 - Peter Won (Blackfalds, Alta.)
#6 - Robert “Bo” Hedges (Wonowon, B.C.) *
#7 - Vincent Dallaire (Quebec, Que.)
#8 - Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.)
#9 - Adam Lancia (Scarborough, Ont.) *
#10 - Abdi Dini (Scarborough, Ont.) *
#11 - Chad Jassman (Calgary, Alta.) *
#12 - Nik Goncin (Regina, Sask.)
#13 - Jonathan Vermette (Sherbrooke, Que.)
#14 - Tyler Miller (Kitchener, Ont.) *
#15 - David Eng (Montreal, Que.) *
Interim head coach - Steve Bialowas (Toronto, Ont.)
Assistant coach - Paul Bowes (London, Ont.)
Assistant coach - Darrell Nordell (Edmonton, Alta.)
Team Canada Women
#4 - Elaine Allard (St-Eustache, Que.) *
#5 - Janet McLachlan (Vancouver, B.C.) *
#6 - Arinn Young (Legal, Alta.)
#7 - Cindy Ouellet (Quebec, Que.) *
#8 - Rosalie Lalonde (St-Clet, Que.)
#9 - Maude Jacques (Lac-Beauport, Que.) *
#10 - Katie Harnock (Elmira, Ont.) *
#11 - Darda Sales (London, Ont.)
#12 - Tracey Ferguson (Richmond Hill, Ont.)*
#13 - Jamey Jewells (Donkin, N.S.) *
#14 - Erica Gavel (Prince Albert, Sask.)
#15 - Melanie Hawtin (Oakville, Ont.)
Head coach - Bill Johnson (Winnipeg, Man.)
Assistant coach - Michael Broughton (Toronto, Ont.)
Assistant coach - Michele Hynes (Winnipeg, Man.)