Mark Arendz named Canada's flag-bearer for Paralympics closing ceremony
Para nordic star won 5 medals in Pyeongchang, including biathlon gold
Para nordic star Mark Arendz was named Canada's flag-bearer for the closing ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Arendz has five individual medals at the Games — including a long-coveted biathlon gold and his first cross-country medals — and anchored Canada to a silver in the 4x2.5-kilometre mixed relay event. He also won a silver and bronze at the Sochi Paralympics in 2014.
"This is an absolute honour and a privilege to receive the flag from my teammate, mentor and hero Brian McKeever [who carried the flag in the opening ceremony] to lead a record-setting group of Canadian athletes," Arendz said in a press release.
"I hope the next generation of young Canadians see me carrying that flag in and are inspired the same way I was to chase their dreams."
Canada set a new national Paralympic record with 28 medals in Pyeongchang, eclipsing the previous best of 19 from the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Canadian Paralympians earned eight gold, four silver and 16 bronze in South Korea.
CBC will stream the closing ceremony live on Sunday at 6 a.m. ET at CBCSports.ca and on the CBC Sports app. Described video will also be offered for the ceremony.
Arendz opened these Paralympics with a silver in the men's 7.5 km standing biathlon. Still craving the first biathlon gold in Canadian Paralympic history, the 28-year-old from Hartsville, P.E.I., took a risk on the final shooting interval of the 12.5 km standing event and missed his first shot.
He still earned bronze despite the gamble, but that elusive gold still loomed large in his mind.
"That's what I came here for, that gold medal," Arendz told CBC Sports' Devin Heroux after the event.
Arendz went on to win his first-career Paralympic cross-country medal — a bronze in the standing sprint — before finally capturing biathlon gold in the 15 km event. He shot cleanly at all four intervals to deny France's Benjamin Daviet a golden three-peat.
"Mark has been one of the absolute standout stories of these Paralympic Games for Canada," said Todd Nicholson, Team Canada's chef de mission. "He is a phenomenal Canadian, athlete, and person, and we are in awe of his talent and unrelenting dedication."
Arendz credits his improved skiing to working with idol Brian McKeever, Canada's most decorated Winter Paralympian and the flag-bearer from the opening ceremony. Arendz — who also won bronze in the men's 10 km cross-country race — is in no hurry to see the 38-year-old go, but is ready to take up the mantle of Canada's premier para nordic skier when the time comes.
"I want to be one of the best and I've been working towards that since I started this sport really," Arendz told CBC Sports' Benjamin Blum before the Games."That's a goal between now and before I call it a career, that I want to be able to be a contender no matter what the race, whether it's a biathlon or a cross-country, classic or skate."