Earlier today the Canadian Paralympic Committee announced Team Canada for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. I am so excited to cheer for Canada’s Paralympians, lead by Chef de Mission Gaétan Tardif and Assistant Chef de Mission Elisabeth Walker-Young, as they compete and represent the best of our country in London. Only fifteen days until the opening ceremonies!
The London 2012 Paralympic Games are set to be the biggest Paralympic games yet. Great Britain is a fitting host for what has become one of the world’s largest sporting events—Dr. Ludwig Guttmann first recognized “the rehabilitative power” of sport for injured soldiers in 1948 when he organized the Stoke Mandeville Games in England. Indeed, the power of our Paralympians knows no bounds; they inspire us all as they model their belief in sport, excellence, equity, and leadership.
Paralympians include athletes from several disability classifications, including amputation, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, intellectual disability, and ‘les autres,’ a group that includes persons with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and other physical disabilities that do not fall into the other categories.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote to Canada’s Paralympic Team, “Canadians are exceedingly proud of Paralympic athletes’ achievements and we look forward to many celebrations throughout the course of these games.” The Senate’s Human Rights committee, in its recent report, Level the Playing Field, highlighted the opportunity that Canada has to celebrate even more the successes of Canadian Paralympians—an opportunity that begins anew with the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
To Canada’s Paralympic team: heartfelt congratulations and the very best of luck in London. You amaze us, you inspire us, you make us all so proud to be Canadian.