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ParaSport Games will feature wide spectrum of athletes
Posted: February 20th, 2013 @ 1:36pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Athletes coming to Kingston for the Ontario ParaSport Games in May will leave with a range of experiences as diverse as the variety of sports they'll contest.
"There will be grassroots athletes, where it's their first time coming to these Games, up to high level athletes," Corey Long, Games consultant with Sport Alliance Ontario, said Wednesday. "We've had athletes going to the Olympics the following year."
Long and some athletes were at Lancaster Drive Public School, where they demonstrated sledge hockey and wheelchair basketball for students, who then had an opportunity to try the sports themselves.
The Kingston event, Long explained, will be the first time summer and winter sports have been held at one time. Each sport federation determines at what level their sport's competition will be held.
"It's across all spectrums," Long said. "We have the grassroots, we have the high performance. It's what they decide they want their competition to be. We've had athletes training to go to the Olympics the following year."
Last year, for instance, Jason Dunkerley competed at the Ontario ParaSport games in Huntsville. He went on to win silver and bronze medals at the Paralympics in London in the 5,000 and 1,500 metres, respectively.
Much has to do with when in the four-year Paralympic cycle a particular ParaSport Games happens to fall, Long said. Last year, the top four teams in the province were in the wheelchair basketball tournament. This year, sports are apt to send athletes at an earlier stage in their competitive path.
Wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey will be sending younger athletes to Kingston, Long said. "A sport like athletics you might get athletes who are a little bit older."
The cross-sport benefits of such diversity can be significant, Long said.
"In sledge hockey we'll have 13-, 14-year-old kids (at their first multisport games)," he said. "They'll get to see a higher level of athlete perform and interact with them and see the next step that they can take in their own sport.
"It's great to see that."
Ontario ParaSport Games
What: Multisport games for blind, amputee, cerebral palsy and wheelchair athletes
Logistics: May 31-June 2 at numerous venues in and around Kingston
Sports: Athletics, boccia, paraequestrian, goalball, lawn bowling, sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
Participants: 180 athletes and about that many coaches, managers, trainers and support staff
History: Kingston hosted the provincial winter ParaSport Games in 2010; this is the first year the summer and winter events are being combined in a single Games
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