Canada's Paralympians soared to new heights in the 2010s

Canada easily earned its best decade of Winter Paralympics results ever, and capped it off by blowing away the previous single Games record with 28 medals in Pyeongchang. Its 10 gold medals in Vancouver still stands as the national mark. Oh, and there were 60 Summer Paralympics medals mixed in, too.

Canadian athletes had their most successful decade ever at the Winter Paralympics

Canadian Brian McKeever waves to the crowd after collecting his bronze medal in 4x2.5km open relay cross-country at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Canada experienced a resurgence of sorts at the Paralympics this past decade.

After a small downturn in 2006 and 2008, the team rallied, setting a new winter record of 19 medals (10 gold) at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. The number of gold still stands as a national mark. However, in Pyeongchang, Canada's Paralympians achieved an even more impressive 28 podium finishes.

Simply put, Canada's winter athletes have been on a tear this decade, outdoing their summer counterparts at London and Rio by a combined 60 medals. 

And behind those medals are some memorable athletes.

Brian McKeever

Vancouver 2010 could've been McKeever's signature moment. The first Canadian to be named to both the Olympic and Paralympic teams, McKeever was set to compete in the Olympic 50-kilometre cross-country race. But a last-second coaching decision saw the legally blind McKeever replaced by another member of the team, denying him of the chance to become the first-ever athlete to accomplish this historic feat.

WATCH | McKeever clinches Canada's best Winter Paralympic showing ever:

McKeever's gold in the 10km visually impaired classic gave Canada 20 total medals in Pyeongchang, surpassing the previous record of 19 medals, which was set in Vancouver in 2010. 1:46

However, McKeever still authored plenty signature moments, including a Canadian record 17 career Winter Paralympic medals—four clear of anyone else.

McKeever also owns three triple gold-medal sweeps, with wins in sprint, 10k and 20k freestyle at Vancouver, Sochi and Pyeongchang.

Lauren Woolstencroft

Now 38, Woolstencroft competed in only one Paralympic Games this decade. Her third and final Games came in Vancouver, near the para skier's home of Calgary. She competed in five events in 2010, all standing: downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super combined.

The results: five gold medals, to match a Canadian record for a single Olympic or Paralympic Games. And she did it on home soil.

Woolstencroft was named the closing flag-bearer in Vancouver, and retired from the sport shortly after. She now works as an electrical engineer, and has a three-year-old son named Max.

WATCH | The best Canadian Paralympic moments of the 2010s:

From Michelle Stilwell to Brian McKeever, Canada had a memorable decade at the Paralympics. Here are some of the country's best moments, in a musical montage. 1:28

Brent Lakatos

The Montreal native owned para athletics this decade. In 2010, Lakatos was just beginning to break out. His performance in Beijing in 2008 yielded no medals, but a pair of fifth-placed finishes in individual races heralded the success to come.

Now 39, Lakatos officially arrived with two medals at the 2011 worlds before snatching three silvers at the 2012 Paralympics in London. He then ripped one of the most dominant stretches in sports: winning 14 gold from his next 18 world and Paralympic podiums. The final tally for the decade: seven medals over a pair of Summer Games. 

WATCH | Lakatos wins his 13th career World Para Athletic gold medal:

Canada's Brent Lakatos wins the men's 800m T53 final in a time of 1 minute 40.59 seconds. 2:09

Perhaps Lakatos' greatest accomplishment of the decade is the fact that he'll exit as the owner of a startling four world records in the 100, 200, 800 and 1,500 T-53 events. That's how you own a sport.

Aurelie Rivard

Of all the individuals on this list, Rivard has the best shot of leveling up once more in the 2020s. The 23-year-old St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., native burst onto the swimming scene at the 2012 Paralympics with a surprising silver medal in the 400-metre freestyle.

Turns out Rivard was here to stay. She followed up her London performance with another three medals at the 2016 Games in Brazil—all gold. That was enough to earn her a nomination for the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete that year (eventually given to fellow swimmer Penny Oleksiak).

WATCH | Rivard wins 3rd gold in Rio:

Rivard won the 400m freestyle S10 on Thursday. 10:22

Rivard exited the 2016 Games with two world records. She'll enter the next decade a favourite to earn even more.

Wheelchair curlers

Victoria's Jim Armstrong, now 69, skipped Canada's wheelchair curling team to Paralympic gold in Vancouver, then followed up with another win in 2014 in Sochi. Mark Ideson, 43, from Parry Sound, Ont.,  took over as skip in 2018, but experienced the same letdown as every other Canadian curler in Pyeongchang. Canada wound up with bronze after a semifinal upset loss to eventual champion China.

WATCH | Ideson's miracle shot from the Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Games:

In what might be the shot of the Paralympics, Canadian skip Mark Ideson just barely snuck his rock past a guard to make the takeout. It led to a steal that evened their match against the USA. 1:07

Still, that loss was just by one point, and Ideson's rink rallied for a win over host South Korea to clinch the podium. Canada's curling dominance may have waned, but the nation's wheelchair athletes were undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with in the 2010s.


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