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7 amazing Paralympians you should know

A collage of the different snowboarders in the air over a mountain background.
Canada’s 2022 Para snowboarding team (L-R) Alex Massie of Ontario, Lisa DeJong of Saskatchewan, Tyler Turner of British Columbia, Sandrine Hammel, Quebec. (Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Becoming a Paralympic athlete takes so much talent, hard work and dedication. These Canadian Paralympians are just a few of the many impressive athletes to watch at the Beijing 2022:

Mac Marcoux — para alpine skiing

Mac Marcoux zooms down the ski hill.

Mac Marcoux competes in the men's visually impaired para alpine at PyeongChang 2018. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Why Mac?

  • He started skiing at four years old but started losing his sight at nine due to Stargardt disease — that’s where seeing straight ahead gets blurry. 
  • At 15, he won his first three titles at the Alpine Skiing World Cup. 
  • Though legally blind, he still enjoys riding mountain bikes.

At the Paralympics: Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: At 24, already won five medals including a gold medal at Sochi, then PyeongChang for para alpine skiing visually impaired.

Ina Forrest — wheelchair curling

Ina Forrest in her wheelchair on the ice, holds her stick and gets ready to push the rock down the ice.

Ina Forrest prepares a stone to play in the wheelchair curling bronze medal game between South Korea and Canada at PyeongChang 2018. (JUNG YEON-JE/Getty Images)

Hometown: Spalumcheen, British Columbia.

Why Ina?

  • At 21, she was in a car accident and lost the use of her legs.
  • At 42, she learned curling while her kids were in school. 
  • She was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.

At the Paralympics: Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: One of the most successful wheelchair curlers in the world with three Paralympic medals — including two gold medals in the mixed team event in Vancouver and Sochi!

Sandrine Hamel — para snowboarding

Sandrine Hamel on her snowboard, zooming down the snowy course.

Sandrine Hamel of Canada competes in para snowboarding at PyeongChang 2018. (Paul Hanna/Reuters)

Hometown: Saint-Sauveur, Quebec.

Why Sandrine?

  • When she was eight, she tried snowboarding for the first time and loved it!
  • She was born with double major scoliosis (her spine curves twice), and suffered a paralyzed leg during surgery. 
  • When not on the snow, Sandrine enjoys boxing! Watch out, the Hamel’s coming down!

At the Paralympics: PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: Has competed and won medals in many World Championships including a gold in the 2022 team para snowboarding event.

Mollie Jepsen — para alpine skiing 

Mollie Jepsen in full gear, leans to her right to make a turn down the mountain.

Mollie Jepsen of Canada competes in the women's standing alpine skiing at PyeongChang 2018. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Hometown: West Vancouver, British Columbia.

Why Mollie?

  • Mollie also known as “Lil Jep” began skiing at two years old. By 18, she was considered a breakout star in international para alpine skiing.
  • She was born missing some of the fingers on her left hand. 
  • In 2018 she was named Best Female Athlete by the Canadian Paralympic Committee. 
  • At the Paralympics: PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: Won four medals at PyeongChang 2018 — including gold for super combined standing!

Greg Westlake — para ice hockey

Greg Westlake in his sledge with his Team Canada red outfit on, uses his stick to lean on the ice as he holds his other stick up in celebration.

Greg Wetslake of Canada celebrates after he scores the 2nd goal in the Para Ice Hockey semifinal game between Canada and Korea during PyeongChang 2018. (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Hometown: Oakville, Ontario (born in British Columbia).

Why Greg?

  • At 18 months old, he had both of his legs amputated below the knee.
  • At 15 years old, he started playing Para ice hockey and joined Team Canada at age 17. 
  • He is considered one of the best para ice hockey players in the world.
  • At the Paralympics: Torino 2006, Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: He’s won three medals for para ice hockey — including gold at Torino! 

Cindy Ouellet — para cross-country skiing

Cindy Ouellet competes in a bi ski, which is a seat enclosure on two skis.

Cindy Ouellet, competes in the para cross country — sitting event at PyeongChang 2018. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Hometown: Quebec City, Quebec.

Why Cindy?

  • At 12 years old, she was diagnosed with bone cancer.
  • At 17 years old, she started playing wheelchair basketball.
  • She is one of the world’s first Paralympians to compete in both summer and winter sports — cross-country skiing and para wheelchair basketball. Double trouble!
  • At the Paralympics: Beijing 2008, London 2012 and PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: She won six medals including gold at the Parapan Games then again at the World Championships.

Making Canada proud

Brian McKeever skis in front of his guide who gives him directions to cross the finish line.

Canada’s most successful Winter Paralympian Brian McKeever (left) of Canada crosses the finish line to win gold in the visually impaired cross-country skiing event at Sochi 2014. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Canada's Paralympic athletes' talent and hard work remind us all that anything is possible if you dare to dream!

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