Meet the Canadians vying for wheelchair basketball...
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Aug 07, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Meet the Canadians vying for wheelchair basketball gold

A look at some of the players on the international powerhouses of the court


From veterans to rookies, we chat with some of Canada’s wheelchair basketball athletes about winning gold, their love of the sport and the roads that led them to wearing the Team Canada jerseys at the Parapan Am Games.

Bo Hedges — The Veteran

Hometown: Fort St. John, B.C.

Age: 35

Class: 2.5

Years on team: 8

“Winning gold in London is the most amazing thing that I’ve ever felt,” the veteran athlete says of the 2012 Paralympics. Hedges, who broke his back after falling out of a tree when he was 13, is also the team’s co-captain. “I owe so much to basketball,” he says. “It’s a giant part of my life.”

Liam Hickey — The Rookie

Hometown: St. John’s, Nfld.

Age: 17

Class: 4.0

Years on team: 1

“I dream of basketball every day,” says Hickey, the team’s youngest player. Born without a femur in his right leg, Hickey has been playing for eight years. The soft-spoken teenager hopes to study engineering or kinesiology when he graduates high school in 2016. In the meantime, he teaches the sport to children. “It’s a really rewarding feeling getting to this level,” he says. “There’s nothing not to like about this sport.”

Abdi Dini — The Survivor

Hometown: Toronto

Age: 34

Class: 1.0

Years on team: 9

“Competing in wheelchair basketball is awesome,” Dini says. “You get to travel around the world!” Born in war-torn Somalia, Dini has been paralyzed since a ricocheting bullet hit his spinal cord at the age of 10. He moved to Scarborough whe he was 12 and played for Team Canada in two Paralympics and Parapan Am Games. “There are people in wheelchairs that live much harder lives then me,” Dini says. “You just appreciate that you’re still alive.”

Cindy Ouellet — The Scholar

Hometown: Quebec City

Age: 26

Class: 3.5

Years on team: 8

“It was such a feeling of pride to win at home,” Ouellet says of clinching gold at the world championships in Toronto last year. This fall, she’ll begin pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California — a path inspired by her childhood experiences with bone cancer. “You play for your country,” Ouellet says. “You play 40 minutes of basketball as hard as you can.”

Jamey Jewells — The Mother

Hometown: Donkin, N.S.

Age: 25

Class: 1.0

Years on team: 4

“We have a target on our back because we are No. 1 in the world, but we’ve earned that target,” Jewells says. When not on the court, Jewells, who broke her back in a 2003 car accident, is a full-time mom. Her husband, Adam Lancia, is a member of the men’s national team. Jewells has no issues with being a gold favourite. “Any pressure is good pressure!”

Rosalie Lalonde — The Newbie

Hometown: Saint-Clet, Que.

Age: 18

Class: 3.0

Years on team: 1

“It’s my life, it’s my job, it’s my passion, it’s my everything!” Lalonde, who joined the team shortly after the 2014 championship, says of the sport. Lalonde, who was born with a congenital hip condition that affects her hips, brings speed and agility to the team. “I’m very proud to be on this team.”

Toronto Star

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