Celebrations include celebrity wheelchair basketball game in Toronto,
formal ceremony and sport demonstrations of judo, boccia and sitting
volleyball in Whitby
Sir Philip Craven, president of International Paralympic Committee, to
visit Toronto next week
TORONTO, Aug. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - Famed Canadian wheelchair basketball star
Richard (Bear) Peter will lead a celebrity pickup game today in
downtown Toronto to celebrate the two-year countdown to the TORONTO
2015 Parapan Am Games.
The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will
conduct the ceremonial tipoff at 2 p.m., while Matt Devlin of the
Toronto Raptors and Mike Frogley, director of the Wheelchair Basketball
Canada Academy, will provide play-by-play of the game at Mattamy
Athletic Centre at the Gardens. Other players include: three-time
Paralympic gold medallist Marni Abbott-Peter and local media and sport
In addition to the wheelchair basketball game in Toronto, TO2015 and its
partners will open the day's celebrations at 9:30 a.m. at the Abilities
Centre in Whitby, home to judo and boccia during the Games. Youth
camps and community groups will have a chance to try out these and
other Parapan sports to celebrate the two-year countdown. All events are free and open to the public. For more details, visit http://www.toronto2015.org
"The 2015 Parapan Am Games will be an amazing experience for our players
— and all Canadian para-athletes, who rarely get to compete in major
international competitions on home soil," said Peter, who is also a
member of the Cowichan Tribes of British Columbia.
In two years, 1,500 of the best para-athletes from 28 National
Paralympic Committees (NPCs) will come to southern Ontario to compete
in 15 sports, including the Parapan Am Games' debut of wheelchair
rugby, which a Canadian team created in Winnipeg in 1977, and the
return of football 7-a-side to the program for the first time since
2007. All sports are Paralympic qualifiers for the upcoming Rio 2016
Previously, the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan Am Games in Mexico featured 13
sports with 1,310 athletes.
Next week, Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic
Committee (IPC), will visit the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games
Organizing Committee (TO2015), after opening the 2013 IPC Swimming
World Championships in Montreal, to discuss plans for hosting the
largest Parapan Am Games ever held.
"The 2015 Parapan Am Games promise to not only showcase great athletes,
but to also demonstrate the indomitable nature of the human spirit,"
said The Hon. David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. "I know
that in 2015, Ontarians will embrace these amazing athletes as family.
Our warm welcome and cheers of support will help them achieve their
athletic dreams and leave them with a lifetime of memories of Ontario
and indeed all of Canada."
A key player on the most successful men's wheelchair basketball team in
Paralympic history (three gold and a silver), Peter, who is now
retired, is hopeful the Canadian men's and women's teams will take gold
in 2015. At the 2011 Parapan Am Games, the women won silver, while the
men took bronze.
"These Games offer the chance to show off how intense the level of
competition is and to attract new athletes to the Paralympic Movement,"
he continued. "This is a great time to be a para-athlete and it's only
getting better as interest grows, thanks to the recent Games in
Vancouver and London. I'm positive Toronto — and all the great sports
fans here — will push that to the next level!"
In Whitby, children from local summer camps will take part in sport
demonstrations with top Canadian athletes in judo, boccia, sitting
volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
Abilities Centre, which opened in June 2012, has been lauded as one of
the best new accessible sport and recreational facilities in the world.
The barrier-free, indoor facility caters to local, national and
international sporting events.
"In two years' time, Abilities Centre will be jumping with excitement as
Canadians cheer on top para-athletes from the Americas and Caribbean.
This is where their dreams will come true after years of hard work,"
explained TO2015 CEO Ian Troop. "That scene will be repeated for seven
more days at sports facilities in Mississauga, Milton, Markham and
"Canada has long championed the Paralympic Movement," he continued. "Our
goal with the 2015 Parapan Am Games —the largest ever held — is to set
a new standard for these Games and to raise awareness and increase
participation in parasport in the Western Hemisphere."
It was only 14 years ago the first Parapan Am Games were held in Mexico
City, with 1,000 athletes from 18 countries competing in four sports.
They have grown steadily ever since. The TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games
mark the first time they will be held in Canada.
Almost 40 years ago, Toronto helped play a role in changing how the
world viewed Paralympic sports when it hosted the fifth Paralympic
Games, called the Torontolympiad. Tens of thousands of Canadians
cheered on more than 1,560 athletes from 40 countries who competed in
The Torontolympiad shepherded the expansion of eligible Paralympic
athletes from strictly wheelchair users to include visually impaired
and amputee athletes for the first time. Two new medal sports were
officially added to the program (goalball and shooting), new distances
were added for wheelchair racing and hundreds of hours of daily
television coverage were produced for the first time, reaching new
audiences for the nascent Paralympic Movement.
Canadian athletes have excelled in parasport ever since and helped
raised the bar for competition globally, thanks to federal funding
devoted to developing sport opportunities for people with a disability.
The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015)
is tasked with the responsibility of planning, managing and delivering
the Games. Its mission is to ignite the spirit through a celebration of
sport and culture. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games will take place
July 10−26 and the Parapan American Games August 7-14.
The 2015 Games are funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of
Ontario, as well as other partners and sponsors. CIBC is the Lead
Partner of the Games.
For more information about the Games, please visit TORONTO2015.org.
The Honourable Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration:
"For decades, Canada has served as a leader in the Paralympic Movement,
thanks to the work of tireless visionaries and federal programs that
have helped develop sport opportunities for people with a disability.
Our Government is proud to support the Toronto 2015 Parapan American
Games, which are creating a rich legacy of accessible sport
infrastructure for future generations to use and encouraging more
Canadians to take up parasport and lead healthy, active lives."
The Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport):
"In just two years, Canada will welcome the top para-athletes from the
Americas and Caribbean for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games. Our
Government is proud to support these Games, which will create
opportunities for more Canadians to get involved in parasport at the
local recreational level in brand-new accessible facilities, while also
providing a rare opportunity for our Canadian athletes to compete—and
win—on home soil."
The Honourable Michael Chan, Ontario Minister Responsible for the 2015
Pan and Parapan American Games:
"In just 2 years Ontario will welcome athletes of all abilities who will
inspire and elevate para-sport competitions in the global arena.
Hosting the 2015 Parapan Am Games will heighten awareness of Ontario's
increased para-sport capacity and showcase Ontario as an accessible
The Honourable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and
"By attracting the world's top para-athletes to Ontario, the Parapan Am
Games will give us all an opportunity to celebrate their athleticism,
their achievements and their determination. But the Parapan Am games
will do even more -- they will leave a proud and enduring legacy of
parasport infrastructure that will make our communities more accessible
and more inclusive for years to come.
His Worship Rob Ford, Mayor of the City of Toronto:
"As the official Host City of the 2015 Parapan Am Games, Toronto will
provide the stage from which the ever-growing parasport community will
shine in the spotlight. These Games offer Torontonians a fantastic
opportunity to experience live elite athletic competition but they will
also spur our city's economy and create thousands of jobs. The lasting
sports legacy of the 2015 Games will also benefit para-athletes in
Toronto and our neighbouring communities, through the accessible
facilities and infrastructure that will serve for years to come."
Her Worship Pat Perkins, Mayor of the Town of Whitby:
"Whitby is proud to be a host community for the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
We are striving to be a completely barrier-free community that provides
opportunities for everyone. We applaud the choice of the Abilities
Centre, a world-class facility built for people of all abilities, as
the venue. In true Canadian style, two years from now, we will open our
arms to embrace the participants in the Parapan Am Games."
Leo Plue, Executive Director, Abilities Centre:
"Parasport in Canada has been drawing the world's attention for decades;
not only for the talent and tenacity of our athletes, but for the way
in which we back parasport in its most grassroots form. The TORONTO
2015 Parapan Am Games will create pride in our athletes and our
communities and the Abilities Centre is thrilled to be involved as a
venue where the best para-athletes in the Americas and Caribbean will
Dr. Gaétan Tardif, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC):
"We're looking forward to the TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Games where
our objective is to compete at the highest level, to put our best team
forward and to finish top three in the overall medal count. This is a
strong and ambitious goal and the CPC will work with our sport
organizations to make sure our athletes are well prepared to shine in
front of Canadians in Toronto."
SOURCE: Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games
For further information:
Director, Media Relations and Chief Spokesperson, TO2015