Nova Scotia Paralympian Paul Tingley reflects on Rio

Five-time Paralympic sailor Paul Tingley is back in Nova Scotia after winning his third Paralympic medal.

Paralympic sailor, bronze medallist excited to start new chapter after 5th Games

Paul Tingley, posing with CBC reporter Colleen Jones, shows off the bronze medal he picked up in Rio. (CBC)

Five-time Paralympic sailor Paul Tingley is back in Halifax after winning his third Paralympic medal.

His bronze in the Sonar division (a three-person keelboat) adds to the gold medal he won at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 and a bronze in Sydney in 2000. He won with his teammates Scott Lutes and Logan Campbell. 

The crew fought tooth and nail for the bronze. At one point during the last race, they had fallen far enough back that Tingley started apologizing to the crew; but they were having none of that.

"I said, 'I'm not giving up, just saying we have to fight for this,'" Tingley said.  

Race to the finish

Fight they did, but even when they crossed the finish line they still weren't sure if they had made the medal podium.  

"We weren't sure if we had it or not. We didn't want to prematurely cheer," he said. 

The cheering began when they found out they had beat the French boat by one second.  

The bronze medal marks the end of remarkable Paralympic career for Tingley with five games and three medals. 

Paul Tingley, with his teammates Scott Lutes and Logan Campbell in Rio, weren't sure if they had grabbed the bronze until the results were posted. (CBC)

Uncharted waters

Now at 47, Tingley is moving into uncharted waters and job hunting. Sailing has been dropped as a Paralympic sport.

Tingley said he is hopeful it's a temporary change and that sailing will be back by 2024.

"It's frustrating. Hopefully it's a chance to improve our weakness and come back in 2024 better and stronger. We have a committee working hard and checking the boxes the international committee wants to see," he said.

Nothing is guaranteed and, with Paralympic sailing in limbo, he's moving on and being optimistic. 

Paul Tingley's bronze from Rio 2016 Paralympics was his third medal in five Games. (CBC)

Positive attitude

"I look back at the experience and I've been so lucky to do something I love. Your whole life has been focused on one thing and it's gone. There is a void. I'm optimistic though, there's a whole bunch of opportunities."  

That's a typical reaction from an athlete known for his positive attitude.

A skiing accident in 1994 left him paralyzed, but his love of sailing quickly launched his Paralympic career, which has taken him around the world.  

Tingley said he looking forward to what's next. 

"I'm excited to start a new chapter," he said.

About the Author

Colleen Jones

Reporter

World champion curler Colleen Jones has been reporting with CBC News for nearly three decades. Follow her on Twitter @cbccolleenjones.