Age: 36 | Read his bio | Past Paralympic Experience: Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012
Winnipeg-born Ian Chan is the co-captain of Canada’s wheelchair rugby team, and a three-time Paralympic medallist. At 15, Ian was on his way to a party when he was in a motorcycle accident that left him an incomplete quadriplegic. “It may sound like a cliché, but I truly believe my life is better because of my accident. I feel like my life is so rich with life experience; I couldn’t trade that for anything else,” he said in an interview.
Ian took up wheelchair rugby on the recommendation of his recreation therapist, Duncan Campbell, who also invented the sport. In 1997, Ian made his first National team. Three years later, he made his Paralympic debut at the Sydney Games, and has captured a medal at every Summer Games since. Today, Ian has a bronze and two silver medals sitting at home. Travelling to Rio for his fifth Paralympics, Ian’s in search of gold. “It’s the one thing missing on my mantle.”
Results: Team Canada placed fourth overall in Rio.
Chantal Givens’s ticket to Rio is the materialization of a lifelong dream. Once a springboard diver, Chantal volunteered at a triathlon event and it prompted her to change sports. Now, 15 years later, the paratriathlete and phys-ed teacher has made it to the Paralympics. Chantal, along with three other Canadians, will be a competitor at the inaugural paratriathlon event at the Rio Paralympic Games this September.
Quote: “For me, the opportunity to represent Canada at the Paralympic Games is the realization of a lifelong dream. Growing up, I had the mindset of being the best that I could be and to not be afraid to work for it. My dad told me that we appreciate things more the harder we work for them, and I can definitely say that I appreciate this opportunity!”
Results: Chantal placed eighth in Rio with a time of 1:19:13.
Meghan Montgomery, para-rowing
Age: 35 | Read her bio | Previous Paralympic Experience: Beijing 2008, London 2012
Two-time Paralympian Meghan Montgomery announced her return to the sport of rowing in a blog post earlier this year. Meghan retired from the sport after the London Games, and turned her focus to teaching and coaching. In her near four-year hiatus, Meghan learned she had “unfinished business” in the sport, and is now training harder and better than ever. The Winnipeg Rowing Club alumna now has eyes set on winning Canada’s first ever Paralympic medal in rowing at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Quote: “Although I have won many medals and have been the first to achieve many things for Team Canada in para-rowing, this past year has been my biggest highlight. Coming out of retirement, achieving personal bests and being part of a growing and dynamic group of para rowers has been both the most challenging and rewarding months of my rowing career.”
Results: Meghan and team took home the bronze medal in the LTAMix4+
ASL interpreter and sit volleyball player Leanne Muldrew is finally getting her chance to attend a Games. In 2012, her squad just missed out on qualifying for the London Games, finishing one spot out of contending. The Rio Paralympic Games will be the first time in Canada’s history that it has qualified a women’s sitting volleyball team for the Paralympic Games.
Results: Team Canada won its classification game against Rwanda (3-0), finishing seventh overall.
Michelle Stilwell, para-athletics
Age: 42 | Read her bio | Past Paralympic Experience: Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008, London 2012
The Honourable Michelle Stilwell is a politician, mother and four-time Paralympic gold medallist, among other things. The Winnipeg-born Paralympian fell and broke her neck while piggy-back riding at age 17, leaving her an incomplete C7 quadriplegic. While in rehab, Michelle was first introduced to wheelchair basketball. After graduating from River East Collegiate, she attended the University of Winnipeg before moving to Calgary to complete her degree.
Michelle’s Paralympic career began at the 2000 Games in Sydney, where she brought home gold with her wheelchair basketball team. She then took to the track, and returned to the Games in 2008 and 2012 as a category T52 track athlete. Two gold medals in Beijing (followed by a gold and silver in London), made Michelle the first female athlete ever to win gold in two different summer sports at the Paralympics.
In 2013, she was elected MLA for the electoral district of Parksville-Qualicum in BC, and serves as the Minister for Social Development and Social Innovation. This September, Michelle will fly to Rio to compete in her fourth Paralympic Games.
Quote: “The only difference between possible and impossible is a person’s attitude. Sometimes our only choice is to change our attitudes when we are faced with adversity or challenges.”
Results: Michelle won gold in both the women’s 400m T52 and 100m T52 races.
In the past two years, Brandon’s Isabela Onyshko has taken the gymnastics world by storm. In 2014, Bela began competing internationally, but was relatively unknown when she won a few World Cup events. This year, Bela has been called the best gymnast in Canada, becoming the all-around champion at Elite Canada, L’International Gymnix and the Canadian Championships. The Brandon Eagles gymnast continues to focus on training and execution as the Games approach.
Quote:“It’s sort of surreal. You dream about it… it’s still hard to believe. I can always remember wanting to go far in this sport.”
Results: Finished eighth in beam final and 18th in individual all-around final.
Nicole Sifuentes, athletics
Age: 30 | Read her bio | Previous Olympic Experience: London 2012
Nicole Sifuentes will make her return to the Olympic Games this August. The University of Michigan Engineering graduate has been running professionally for the last several years, medalling at the 2014 World Championships, the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2015 and 2016 Canadian Championships. She holds the Canadian national indoor 1500m record, and looks to improve upon her London Games performance in which she made it to the semifinals.
Quote: “A big weekend is over! I’m going to be a two-time Olympian!! Last evening I won silver at the Canadian Olympic Trials and earned a spot on team Canada in Rio…. Happy and excited for the rest of this racing season!”
Result:Finished seventh in her 1500m semifinal and 18th overall.
Erin Teschuk started running in elementary school, when she realized her favourite part of soccer practice was running laps. After high school, Erin moved to North Dakota to attend NDSU, where she’s become a dominant NCAA runner and seven-time All American. Erin’s improvement over the last four years has been incredible: the back-to-back steeplechase National Champion heads to Rio only a year after her first major international competition, the 2015 IAAF World Championships.
Result: Finished 46th overall with a time of 9:53.70.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games are redemption for cyclist Leah Kirchmann. Things were looking good for Leah heading into the London Games, but a bad week was all it took for Leah’s Olympic dreams to be crushed. Since 2012, Leah has been cycling professionally in Europe, winning larger races, including the first stage of the prestigious Gira Rosa – the biggest win of her career – just two days after her Olympic nomination.
Quote: “It is a dream come true being named to the Canadian Olympic team! It’s so nice to finally have that persistence and determination pay off. I can’t wait to represent Canada on the world’s biggest sports stage.”
Result: Leah placed 38th overall on a gruelling Rio cycling course.
Sophie Schmidt, soccer
Age: 28 | Read her bio | Past Olympic Experience: London 2012 (Bronze)
Sophie Schmidt was born in Winnipeg, but grew up in Abbotsford, BC. She was 16 when she made her debut for Canada, and since then has made more than 100 appearances with the national team, playing a career-high 76 consecutive matches with Canada in 2011-20115. She plays professionally with FFC Frankfurt of Germany.
Quote: “[It is] such an honour and blessing to be able to represent Canada at another Olympics!”
Result: Canada took home bronze in a 2-1 victory against Brazil.
Desiree Scott, soccer
Age: 29 | Read her bio | Past Olympic Experience: London 2012 (Bronze)
University of Manitoba alumna Desiree Scott has been playing professional soccer for the last decade, and is currently playing with FC Kansas. She has now made well over 100 appearances for Canada, and along with her teammates, is determined to improve upon Canada’s bronze medal from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Quote: “I want to be a person who my family, city and country can be proud of.”
Result: Canada took home bronze in a 2-1 victory against Brazil.
In 2012, Chantal Van Landeghem narrowly missed qualifying for the London Olympics. At the 2015 Pan Am Games, Chantal made a name for herself after winning two gold medals on the opening night, upsetting American legend Natalie Coughlin in the process. In Rio, she will race the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and the 4x100m relay.
Quote: “It’s a dream come true. It’s been a work in progress ever since I can remember. It might be the happiest day of my life right now.”
Won the bronze medal 4x100m freestyle relay
Finished fifth in the 4x100m medley relay
Qualified for the 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle semifinals
Sarah-Anne Brault grew up in Winnipeg, attending Kids of Steel races before coming to the realization that triathlon was something she wanted to do seriously. Since high school, Sarah has lived in Quebec City, and has been serviced by INS Quebec.
Quote: “I was thrilled and relieved at the same time to get the official call that I’d be nominated to Team Canada. I’m looking forward to seizing this opportunity to get even better and having my best result of the year in Rio, on a course I really enjoy.”
Tyler missed a large portion of his qualification period due to injury, and was playing a game of catch-up as the Olympics approached. With little more than a year’s experience racing on the ITU World Triathlon Series circuit, Tyler’s performance has been improving steadily, placing in the top 15 at each of his WTS races so far in 2016. Tyler joins Triathlon Canada’s team alongside four other first-time Olympians.
Quote: “Everything I do on a daily basis helps toward making me a better triathlete and accomplishing this dream I had as a kid of being an Olympian. It is an honour to be named to the Canadian Team and be given the opportunity to wear the maple leaf.”
Justin Duff has enjoyed great success since graduating from the University of Winnipeg where he was a First Team All-Canadian and Male Athlete of the Year in 2010. In 2015 he helped Canada win gold at the NORCECA Championships. He was also on the squad that won the FIVB World League Group 2 in 2016. Professionally, Justin plays with the Russian volleyball club Belogorie Belgorod.
Result: The Canadian men’s volleyball team finished the tournament fifth overall.
TJ Sanders was born in Winnipeg, but currently calls London, ON home. His Olympic dream began in 2007 when Volleyball Canada hosted a weekend of FIVB World League action in his hometown. He worked as a floor wiper, running around to clean up the sweat from the players. From that moment, he knew what he wanted to do. Today, Sanders is one of the younger members of the national team. He plays professionally for Arkas Spor in Izmir, Turkey.
Result:The Canadian men’s volleyball team finished the tournament fifth overall.
The Team Behind the Team
More than ever before, reaching the extremes of human performance requires that Olympic and Paralympic athletes have a team of experts supporting them. There are a number of support team members – coaches, sports science and sport medicine staff, officials and mission staff – with a Manitoban connection who are headed to Rio. These folks play an essential role and deserve to be recognized.
The Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba acknowledges that our offices are situated on Treaty 1 Land, the original lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Ojibway-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
The Treaties made on these territories are respected by all those who work at CSCM. We acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past that were made. In a spirit of collaboration and reconciliation, we dedicate ourselves to continually move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities for ongoing education and learning.
We understand that acknowledging this truth, though important, is only a small part in cultivating the strong relationships we strive to build and maintain with Indigenous communities. We continue to work towards this, with particular attention being paid to the sport specific calls to action #87-91 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We recognize we are not the first to live on this land, and thank these Nations for allowing us access to their land and water.