As was the case when she was a star on the Canadian Para swimming team, Chelsey Gotell can be expected to be a strong and powerful presence as the new Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Athletes’ Council.
And the 31-year-old osteopathy student also wants to lead by example.
“It goes back to creating opportunities for our athletes to be really great sport, business and community leaders,’’ said Gotell, a 12-time Paralympic Games medallist over three Games from 2000 to 2008. ‘’We want other athletes to become advocates and get and stay involved in the Paralympic movement.’’
Since retiring as an athlete, Gotell has remained involved in sport. Along with being part of Team Canada’s mission staff at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, she worked in communications as well as sport and athlete relations with the Toronto 2015 Organizing Committee for the Pan/Parapan American Games.
‘’At the Pan Ams I found my voice for athlete advocacy,’’ she said. ‘’Athlete relations was one of my roles and I learned about their concerns. Those were often issues I had experienced as well when I competed and it pushed me to apply for the CPC’s Athlete Council.’’
Gotell, elected as vice-chair in 2014, was elected chair in April 2016 after Tyler Mosher decided to not pursue the position again. She will officially move into the position in April 2017 after the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
The Chair has a voting seat on the CPC Board of Directors. Recently the Board voted that an athlete representative with relevant experience will sit on each of the CPC committees.
‘’It gives us a voice on all the decisions being made at the CPC,’’ said Gotell. ‘’Athletes are affected by those issues and we ensure to have someone at the table speaking up for them.’’
‘’We are always trying to find athletes who are really vocal and knowledgeable and want to be involved in the Paralympic movement beyond their sporting career,’’ Gotell said.
There are three new athletes on the Athletes’ Council for 2017: cyclist Ross Wilson (new vice-chair), wheelchair basketball player Erica Gavel and alpine skier Kirk Schornstein. Returning members to the Council are sledge hockey player Brad Bowden, judoka Tony Walby and rower Meghan Montgomery.
Mosher and wheelchair rugby player Trevor Hirschfield have finished their terms.
‘’Tyler and Trevor were pioneers to get the council up and running and we thank them for their contributions,’’ said Gotell. “We are sad to lose them but look forward to their continued support and mentorship.
For more information about the Athlete Council please visit: http://paralympic.ca/athletes-council-0.
Athlete council members:
Chelsey Gotell: Chair
A three-time Paralympian in swimming and 12-time Paralympic medallist, Gotell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is a student at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy. She has been a member of Mission Staff at two Paralympic Games and worked for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games Organizing Committee for four years. Athlete bio: http://paralympic.ca/chelsey-gotell
Ross Wilson: Vice-chair
Cyclist Ross Wilson produced a dream season in 2016. He won two silver medals at the Paralympic Games in Rio and another silver at the world track cycling championships. It was quite a comeback after crashing at the 2015 Toronto Parapan Am Games. Athlete bio: http://paralympic.ca/ross-wilson
A two-time Paralympic rower and member of the CPC Athlete Council since 2009, Montgomery is a mathematics teacher and rowing coach at Shawnigan Lake School in British Columbia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education in English and Mathematics. She helped Canada to its first ever Paralympic Games rowing medal in 2016. Athlete bio: http://paralympic.ca/meghan-montgomery
A bronze medallist at the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan American Games, Walby placed seventh at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and ninth in Rio in 2016. He works as a computer engineer for the Government of Canada. Athlete bio: http://paralympic.ca/tony-walby-0
Bowden has competed at both winter and summer Paralympic Games: In sledge hockey, he won bronze in Sochi 2014 and gold in Torino 2006, along with gold in wheelchair basketball in Athens 2004. He has a graphic design diploma from Georgian College in Barrie, Ont. Athlete bio: http://paralympic.ca/brad-bowden
Alpine skier Kirk Schornstein won his first world championship medal in 2017 with silver in the downhill. He competed at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games with only one year’s experience on the national team and also raced at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games. Athlete bio: http://paralympic.ca/kirk-schornstein
Erica Gavel helped Canada’s women’s wheelchair basketball team to the silver medal at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games and a fifth place finish at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. She is expected to be one of the team’s leaders heading towards Tokyo 2020 after recent retirements by key veterans. Athlete bio: http://paralympic.ca/erica-gavel
Canadian Paralympic Committee | paralympic.ca