Meet the 5 Paralympic athletes with ties to Manitoba

Manitoba's strong showing in the 2016 Olympic Games could continue over the next few weeks in Rio during the Paralympic Games.
Team Canada's women's sitting volleyball team celebrates its bronze-medal victory over Team Cuba at the 2015 Parapan Am Games. Canada will make its Paralympics women's sitting volleyball debut in Rio. (Lucas Oleniuk/Getty Images)

Manitoba's strong showing in the 2016 Olympic Games could continue over the next few weeks in Rio during the Paralympic Games. 

There are five athletes wearing the maple leaf with ties to Manitoba competing in the games, which run from Sept. 7-18.

Chantal Givens

Chantal Givens, 38, has been named to the Canadian Paralympic Team. (Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba/Submitted to CBC)

Givens is making history competing in the paratriathlon.

The 38-year-old Winnipegger said "it's been a journey" getting to Rio, where the paratriathlon will debut as an Olympic event.

Givens, a physical education teacher, first got an idea of her Paralympic future in 2001 when she volunteered at a triathlon in Edmonton with her springboard diving team.

"It kind of gave me a spark inside that I thought it was an amazing sport and watching how people push themselves and you are going through so many different activities," she said.

Although she did a couple of races, Givens said she didn't know about paratriathlon because it didn't exist yet.

In 2012, she discovered the sport and competed "on a whim" at the nationals in Edmonton.

"I ended up winning that in a sprint event and then my new journey began," she said.

Givens is a now a three-time Canadian paratriathlon champion. The Paralympics have been her goal since that first race, and she wasn't even deterred by a broken shoulder blade suffered a few weeks into the qualifications period.

"It ended up sending me a little bit around the world to get the points I needed the spring of this year," she said.

While healing from the injury, Givens spent some time with Maria Mitousis, the Winnipeg lawyer who lost her hand after a bomb mailed to her office exploded.

Seeing someone face a new challenge kept Givens on track for her own recovery.

"Buckling down, staying focused, not feeling sorry for myself," Givens said.

"Maria really helped me see that reality and focus on little goals at a time."

Event schedule:

  • Women's PT4 Race: Sunday, Sept. 11 at 10:30 a.m. CT.

Leanne Muldrew

Leanne Muldrew is a member of Canada’s first Paralympic sitting volleyball team. She will start competing in Rio on Sept. 9. (CBC)

Muldrew is prepared to take Rio by storm as a member of Canada's first Paralympic sitting volleyball team.

The 33-year-old was a star volleyball player in her teens, but a bad injury and a few surgeries meant she couldn't compete.

"I really thought my dream of playing volleyball at an elite level was gone," Muldrew told CBC earlier this month.

"I sat down with my father and we looked online to see if there was a Paralympic women's volleyball team."

At the time, there wasn't, so Muldrew focused on launching a career as an American Sign Language Interpreter.

She played for Team Canada in 2011, but the team missed its shot at competing in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games.

But the 12-athlete squad did qualify for the Rio Games, and Muldrew is ready to prove why they are there.

"We're underdogs. We're going to embrace our underdog role," she said.

She said she and her team know they have their work cut out for them in Rio, but they're hoping to get a few upsets.

Event schedule:

  • First game: Friday, Sept. 9 at 2:30 p.m. CT vs. Brazil.

Meghan Montgomery

Meghan Montgomery came out of retirement to tackle unfinished business in her rowing career. (@MeghanRows/Twitter)
Manitoba-born Montgomery came out of retirement to tackle "unfinished business" in her rowing career. 

Montgomery, 35, started rowing with the Winnipeg Rowing Club and studied at the University of Manitoba. 

She eventually moved to Victoria, B.C., for training, and she competed in the Beijing Paralympic Games and the London Paralympic games.

After London, Montgomery put down her paddles and worked as a math teacher and a rowing coach at a school on Vancouver Island, her blog says. 

"I had unfinished business in my rowing career and was missing the athlete life. So I came out of retirement and I'm happier than I have ever been," she wrote. 

The Canadian rowing team is positive and engaged, Montgomery wrote, adding she wanted to work with them to "get Canada to its first podium finish in para-rowing at a Paralympic Games."

She certainly didn't get shaky during retirement. Montgomery won the gold medal at the world championships in June. 

Event schedule:

  • LTAMix4+ First Heat: Friday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 a.m. CT.

Ian Chan

Winnipeg-born Ian Chan is co-captain of Canada's wheelchair rugby team. (Canadian Sport Centre)
Co-captain of Canada's wheelchair rugby team, 36-year-old Ian Chan was born in Winnipeg.

The three-time Paralympic medallist was injured in a motorcycle accident at 15. 

Chan made his first national team in 1997 and his Paralympic debut in the Sydney Games in 2000.

Chan has captured a medal at every Summer Olympics since 2004 in Athens. He has a bronze and two silver medals to his name and hopes this will be the year he finally brings home gold.

Event schedule:

  • First game: Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 3:15 p.m. CT vs. Brazil.

Hon. Michelle Stilwell

Four-time Paralympic gold medalist, Michelle Stilwell was born and raised in Winnipeg. (Canadian Sport Centre)
​The politician, mother and four-time Paralympic gold medallist was born and raised in Winnipeg.

The River East Collegiate grad fell and broke her neck when she was 17. She was left as an incomplete quadriplegic after the fall.    

She first competed in the Sydney Games in 2000, where she won a gold with the wheelchair basketball team.

In 2008 in Beijing, Stilwell returned to Paralympic competition. She competed in the T52 track category and won two gold medals. Those medals made her the first female athlete to win gold in two different summer sports at the Paralympics.

During the London 2012 games, Stilwell won a gold and silver.

Event schedule:

  • Women's 400m T51/52 Final: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7 a.m. CT.
  • Women's 100m T51/52 Final: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 a.m. CT.