Born: Nov. 15, 1984
Wheelchair racer, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, marathon
Josh Cassidy’s Paralympic debut was at the 2008 Beijing Games, where he placed 10th in the 5,000m men’s race. Two years later, he won the London Marathon, and in April of this year, recorded the world’s fastest time at the Boston Marathon.
Mr. Cassidy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma just weeks after birth – a cancer in the spine and abdomen – and is now one of Canada’s top wheelchair racers. He is favoured to win up to four medals, having swept each of his events at Canadian Paralympic trials.
Born: July 4, 1974
Wheelchair racer, 100m, 200m
A former wheelchair basketball player, Michelle Stilwell took up racing for the Beijing Games after complications from a spinal injury forced her to switch sports. Ms. Stilwell became a quadriplegic after falling from a friend’s back at age 17. She holds world record times for the 100m and 200m racing events.
After winning two gold medals in Beijing, and another three at the 2011 IPC world championships in New Zealand, Ms. Stilwell is a London gold-medal favourite in both the 100m and 200m events.
Born: Jan. 9, 1971
Hometown: Notre Dame Du Lac, Que.
Wheelchair racer, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, marathon
After winning her first Paralympic gold in Beijing in 2008, Diane Roy was forced to redo the race because three countries appealed the results over a collision. She ended up settling for silver in the 5,000m. This time around, she hopes to win gold for good.
Ms. Roy was involved in an ATV crash at age 17 that left her a paraplegic. She won two bronze medals in Athens in 2004, and two bronze medals and a silver in Beijing. This will be her fifth Paralympic Games.
Born: Jan. 24, 1984
Hometown: Longueuil, Que.
Swimming, 400m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley, 100m freestyle
Benoît Huot is one of Canada’s best-known Paralympic swimmers, and for good reason – he won a whopping five gold medals at the Athens Games, and four bronzes in Beijing.
The 28-year-old also competes against able-bodied swimmers despite a club foot and broke his own world record in the 200m individual medley during trials this past spring. A multi-medal performance is expected in London.
Born: Oct. 12, 1988
Hometown: Fleurimont, Que.
Swimming, 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, 200m individual medley
Valérie Grand’Maison was Canada’s most successful swimmer at the Beijing Games, with three golds, two silvers and a bronze. Despite suffering a shoulder tear last year, the hope is she can repeat her medal-winning performance in London.
Ms. Grand’Maison had been swimming for years when her eyesight began to wane at age 16. Now, the 23-year-old holds an impressive five world records in 100, 200, 400 and 800m freestyles, as well as the 400m individual medley.
Born: June 1, 1970
Sailing, single-person 2.4m keelboat
A skiing accident at age 24 left Paul Tingley with a broken back and a permanent spinal cord injury, forcing him to use a wheelchair. But after a physiotherapist recommended sailing for disabled persons, he was hooked.
These will be his fourth Paralympic Games, after a gold medal in Beijing. He is considered one of the world’s top solo sailors, even against able-bodied competitors.
Born: April 22, 1993
Hometown: Burlington, Ont.
Swimming, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay, 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle
A swimmer from age 2, Summer Mortimer raced competitively through much of her teens. But her championship dreams were in trampolining – until she shattered the bones in both her feet after missing the landing pad. Swimming, however, became a part of her rehabilitation, and she has since become one of the world’s top para-swimmers.
Already a world-record holder in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke events, Ms. Mortimer is expected to perform well at her first Paralympic Games.
Born: Sept. 18, 1970
Hometown: Mica Creek, B.C.
Wheelchair rugby, mixed wheelchair rugby
Garrett Hickling isn’t just one of Canada’s most established wheelchair rugby players – he’s one of the most renowned in the world. The event was introduced to the Paralympic Games in 1996, and Mr. Hickling has competed in every event since, earning the MVP designation at the sport’s first three world championships.
With a bronze medal in Beijing and a silver in Athens, Team Canada is looking to Mr. Hickling to lead the way to another medal.
Born: Sept. 12, 1977
Hometown: Langley, B.C.
Equestrian, team test – Grade II, team championship, individual championship test – Grade II, individual freestyle test – Grade II
A bale of hay fell on Lauren Barwick in 2000 and broke her back, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Already a competitive show-jumper, Ms. Barwick turned her attention away from stunt riding to para-equestrian pursuits.
Although she failed to reach the podium during her first Games in 2004, a gold and silver in the 2008 freestyle and championship events, respectively, suggest that more medals in London are possible.
Born: Sept. 6, 1975
Hometown: Thunder Bay
Road cycling, individual B road race, individual B time trial
Track cycling, women’s individual B pursuit
Robbi Weldon is no ordinary Paralympic competitor. After competing as a Nordic skier during the 2010 Vancouver Games, finishing just shy of bronze in a relay event, Ms. Weldon turned her attention to cycling.
She began to lose her vision at 15, after being diagnosed with a form of mascular degeneration, and is now legally blind. After winning four gold medals at last year’s Pan-Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Ms. Weldon hopes to dominate the track once again.
Sources: The Canadian Press, paralympic.ca, paralympicfoundation.ca and robbiweldon.ca
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