Swimmer Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur Richelieu, Que., and cyclist Tristen Chernove of Cranbrook, B.C., were big winners on Friday night at the 2017 Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame and Sport Awards ceremony held at the Infinity Centre in Ottawa.
Four award winners
Rivard received the award for Best Female Athlete. She was Canada’s top medal producer at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, winning four medals in the pool, including three gold and one silver.
Rivard was chosen as Canada’s flag-bearer for the Closing Ceremony, named Swimming Canada’s and Swimming Word Magazine’s Female Para swimmer of the Year and was amongst the finalists for the Lou Marsh Award for Canada’s athlete of the year.
Chernove received the award for Best Games Debut. He spearheaded a record nine-medal performance for Canada’s Para cycling team in Rio. He took gold in the time trial road race, silver in the individual pursuit and bronze in the 1000-m time trial.
Sébastien Travers of Bromont, Que., received the Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence Award. Travers is the National Para cycling team head coach who directed Canadian cyclists to an impressive nine-medal tally in Rio, making cycling the most successful Paralympic sport for Canada at the Games.
Finally, Maxime Gagnon of Montreal received the Development Coach of the Year Award. Gagnon is the Quebec provincial team head coach and director general of Hockey sur luge Montreal. Gagnon is credited with growing the popularity of Para ice hockey (formerly known as sledge hockey) significantly in the city of Montreal and province of Quebec.
Five inductees into Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with a Disability, headlined a group of five individuals inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame.
Qualtrough, from Delta, B.C., was inducted in the builder category with Archie Allison of Toronto, Ont. and Maureen Orchard of Winnipeg, Man. Named in the coach category was Ozzie Sawicki of Cochrane, Alta., and in the athlete category Karolina Wisniewska of Calgary, Alta.
Qualtrough, a triple Paralympic medallist in swimming, was a key player in Vancouver’s bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games – as president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. As a lawyer, she was a powerful advocate for worker’s compensation and human rights before moving into the political circuit.
Wisniewska is a three-time Paralympian and winner of eight Paralympic medals in Para alpine skiing. She won two silver medals at Nagano in 1998, two silver and two bronze medals in Salt Lake City in 2002 and two bronze at Vancouver 2010.
Sawicki was head coach of the Canadian Para Alpine Ski Team which won 12 of the total 15 medals earned by Team Canada at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games. In 2014, he was Team Canada’s Chef de Mission in Sochi where Canada ranked third in the gold medal count — with seven gold, two silver, and seven bronze.
Orchard revolutionized the sport of wheelchair basketball at home and abroad. She brings more than 30 years of experience and dedication to the sport. She is currently the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) secretary general.
Allison is a legendary figure at Toronto’s Variety Village, a centre that helps people with a disability develop a healthy lifestyle through sports, fitness and physical activity.
It’s a privilege to be a coach in Canada and I hope that we can continue to get good people who want to create athletes, because I don’t think we create athletes, I think we create good people. That’s our job as coaches. That’s what I take the most pride in.
– Ozzie Sawicki, inducted in the Builder category
I’ve been so fortunate to have the second coming of an athletic career through Para sport. In 2009 when my body started to really change, I switched from able-bodied padding to Para sport and throughout my whole career I’ve never been as in love with sport as I am now. I just feel really lucky. I won’t say that my life hasn’t had some difficulties, but there’s always been this huge amalgam of reasons for gratitude so there’s no room for pain or suffering. I seem to live on a cloud of gratitude these days.
– Tristen Chernove, Sport Award winner for Best Games Debut
I consider my time with parasport to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime. Throughout the years, I have been energized by the hard work and dedication by the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and organizers. I am pleased to watch Para sport continue to grow and show the world the power of ability.
– Maureen Orchard, inducted in the Builder category
I wouldn’t be where I am today or who I am today if it wasn’t for Paralympic sport. I’ve learned so much about the world, about myself and about human potential. I could never give back to the world what the Paralympic movement has given me. The Paralympic movement has transformative power that the world is only beginning to see and all I can say is I look forward to the next 30 years.
– Hon. Carla Qualtrough, inducted in the Builder category
To me being a coach is a privilege and being able to influence and be influenced by these guys is a privilege. Every morning I go drop my kids at daycare and say I’m going to play at work. It’s about fun. For the next four years, my goal is to make sure that my athletes, even if they are high-performing athletes, they go have fun.
– Sébastien Travers, Sport Award winner for Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence
I still feel like yesterday I was this 13-year-old girl making her first national team and never would have thought that I would be a three-time gold medallist and winning the athlete of the year award. I have my eyes on Tokyo for sure, so hopefully I can make you guys proud again in the next four years.
– Aurélie Rivard, Sport Award winner for Best Female Athlete
I have the best job in the world. Every day I go to work and I find something fascinating to learn about. The kids teach me something every day. It’s those little reminders that what you do is important, has an impact and has an effect.
– Archie Allison, inducted in the Builder category
I’ve been working with athletes with a disability for more than 20 years. Sledge hockey has given me the chance to work directly with athletes to help them reach their goal. It motivates me to get up every Saturday morning at 7 a.m. to go to the arena. It’s essential to continue to develop and invest in our athletes. My wish for the future and for sledge hockey is that Canada brings home the gold medal from PyeongChang.
– Maxime Gagnon, Sport Award winner for Development Coach of the Year
I would like to comment on how much has changed. In my first race at the 1996 world championships, I went there and I didn’t have a uniform because I was the newest member of the team and they only got them every four years. So much has changed and we have come so far, but let’s remember we still have a long way to go. Just keep your eyes on the prize.
– Karolina Wisniewska, inducted in the Athlete category