By Charlie Pinkerton
A month after the 2018 Olympic Winter Games begin in Pyeongchang, Canada’s Paralympians will take on the best in the world in the 2018 Winter Paralympics. And like the Olympics, some of Ottawa’s top athletes will try to bring gold home for Canada.
Tyrone Henry is optimistic that he’ll be heading to his first Paralympics in March. The 23-year-old para ice hockey player from Stittsville spent the bulk of January in Toronto training with Canada’s National Team.
“The first time I saw sledge hockey was at the Paralympics in Vancouver, so to be able to go ahead and be a part of (the upcoming Paralympics) would be a dream come true,” Henry said. “I’m just trying hard to make the team and be a positive influence for our team members and the team in general.”
Henry won a gold medal at last year’s World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Gangneung, South Korea. This season, in December, he won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2017 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Joining Henry on those medal-winning teams and also contending for Canada’s Paralympic para ice hockey team this year is Ben Delaney. The 21-year-old St. Pius X high school graduate was the youngest member of Canada’s ice sledge hockey team in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, where he won a bronze medal.
As well, para snowboarder John Leslie looks to improve upon his 7th place finish in Sochi in the snowboard cross, where the sport officially debuted at the Games. At the 2017 International Paralympic Committee World Championships he placed 11th in the snowboard cross and 5th in the banked slalom.
Todd Nicholson, a former star for Canada in the sport of para ice hockey, will also represent Ottawa at the Games as Canada’s chef de mission. In the role Nicholson will be the official spokesperson for the Canadian Paralympic team and will promote Canadian athletes in an effort to raise awareness of Paralympic sport and Canada’s team. Nicholson was a team captain for Canada for 15 years and competed in five Paralympic Games. He was Canada’s flag bearer at the 2006 Paralympic Games in Turin, Italy, where he won a gold medal, as well.
Be sure not to miss March’s Ottawa Sportspage for a special section profiling all the local athletes headed to the March 8-18 Paralympic Games.