Olympic RelayOlympic Relay: Josh Cassidy, Wheelchair Racing

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | 12:00 PM

Categories: Olympic Relay, Olympics2012

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Canadian athletes are a fascinating breed of focused men and women who know what they want to achieve. We see them as they compete, and then they disappear from our view.

Here's a place where you have a chance to meet them in a way that illustrates their personalities. Their likes, their dislikes and what makes them tick. We call this the Olympic Relay and here's how it works.

A few months ago we had the idea of sending five questions to a selected group of Olympic athletes. We started with Olympic kayaker and medal hopeful Adam van Koeverden and asked for his feedback. He responded by saying it's a good idea, but it could be better? He suggested that we get athletes to ask questions of other athletes. Something like chain mail. And that is what we have tried to do.

For the past few months they have been asking questions of some of their fellow athletes who have generously taken the time to respond. Click on the images above and you'll discover the questions, and the answers. Enjoy!

Josh Cassidy in action at the 2010 Virgin London Marathon London.  Josh won the event. (Ian Walton/Getty Images) Josh Cassidy in action at the 2010 Virgin London Marathon London. Josh won the event. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)

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Josh Cassidy is what you call multi-talented. Not only does he set records as a wheelchair athlete, he is also a talented illustrator. Check out his website for some examples of his work. You will certainly be engaged.

In 2012 Josh recorded the world's fastest marathon in Boston and he delighted in the opportunity to take part in our Olympic Relay.
Josh Cassidy
Hometown: Oakville
Sport: Wheelchair racer

Josh Cassidy is what you call multi-talented. Not only does he set records as a wheelchair athlete, he is also a talented illustrator. Check out his website for some examples of his work. You will certainly be engaged.

In 2012 Josh recorded the world's fastest marathon in Boston and he delighted in the opportunity to take part in our Olympic Relay. 

The questions are from CBCSports.ca.  

His Paralympic events:
  • 800m
  • 1,500m
  • 5,000m
  • Marathon

CBCSports.ca: 
You are a talented illustrator who spends a lot of time with your work. Who is your favourite comic book character and why? 

Josh:  
That's a hard one! There are many diverse characters with whom I identify with in one way or another - Daredevil, Wolverine, Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Robin are all examples. 
Daredevil defies convention with his physical appearance and 'disability,' yet he is obviously more than he seems, both physically, and as a blind lawyer. Wolverine is a tough loner, who definitely feels disconnected and with his hard exterior, I don't think anyone understands or could tolerate the pain he has been through, emotional or physical. And come on, he's just bad ass!
 
Spiderman is the young everyman. Who doesn't relate to Spiderman?

Superman - I find it interesting that despite all of his powers, he can never completely fulfill his good intentions and be there to save everyone - and this kills him. 

Every kid wishes he was Batman's sidekick and Batman is definitely the coolest character ever imagined, and for sure my favourite to illustrate.

CBCSports.ca: 
What is the best bit of advice you have ever received?

Josh: 
There are so many little bits of advice that have contributed along the way and have even become engrained or forgotten. But the earliest advice that stands out was from the back of a hockey card of my favourite player, Patrick Roy. He talks about 'studying hard' to achieve perfection. 

The most recent advice that stands out is from the book The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks. It's about our ability to create our reality simply through our thoughts and mindset. My good friend Ted Johnston, who is also a life coach, is the wisest and most clairvoyant person I have ever known. I am forever grateful for our talks.

CBCSports.ca: 
You spend countless hours getting your mind and body ready for a race.  How much effort do you put into getting your chair ready?

Josh: 
Chair repairs and prep is my least favourite part to be honest. But everything must be perfect to win a race, including equipment. Tires without nicks, choosing the right tire then inflating it to the right pressure relative to the surface, all nuts and screws tightened, steering set perfectly, pushrings coated in rubber in prime condition, gloves without defects. 

Since I don't like doing these things, I usually procrastinate and do it all right before a race, or when I absolutely have to. Then I get it all done in a third of the time because I don't mope about it! And it gets my adrenaline going!

CBCSports.ca: What has been the most surprising moment of your athletic career?

Josh: 
The most positive, surprising moment would definitely have to be recording the world's fastest marathon in Boston. Despite a tough winter with every set back imaginable - personal, financial, health, equipment, you name it -  I was able to get my head right and bounce back to do what I did six weeks later.

 I visualized winning, because I had to, but I have to say the time was a bit of a surprise, though I believed I could eventually do it. The win sunk in before I crossed the line, but it literally took me almost three weeks for the record to sink in. 

CBCSports.ca: 
This one is up to you. What question do you wish people would ask you and what would your answer be?

Josh: 
The one thing I wish people knew is not really an answerable question, though it has been asked: 'how much training do you do?' or 'how long have you been doing this.' I can say twice a day, six days a week. I can say I got my own racing chair in 2001, but I can't put into words everything I do, what I have learned and experienced over the last 12 years.  
It would take 12 years to tell that story properly, and even then I will forget things. 

It's just been an incredible journey, filled with a lot of hard work, laced with pain and fulfillment, heartbreak and triumph. I just want the world to see what an amazing exciting sport wheelchair racing is. How competitive it is, with multiple athletes in sprint, even in the full marathon. Everyone who has seen a race is hooked. 

I'm overjoyed at how enthusiastic spectators are. But there are many who are yet to be exposed to the sport, and it is up to the media to decide to take a chance on something not so popular. But it's coming! 

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