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TORONTO, Sept. 19, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Athletes in para-alpine skiing, para-Nordic skiing and wheelchair curling took centre stage today as stars of the Sochi 2014 Canadian Paralympic Team and the broader Canadian Paralympic movement were fêted at the 2014 Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards ceremony.
The Paralympic Sport Awards celebrate top athletes, recognizing their achievements from the most recent Paralympic Games, in addition to honouring and recognizing the contribution of coaches.
"There were so many outstanding performances in Sochi and plenty of deserving athletes and coaches for these awards," said Gaétan Tardif, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. "I'd like to congratulate today's recipients as well as the entire Canadian Paralympic Team for an outstanding performance in Sochi."
The Canadian Paralympic Team placed third in the gold medal count in Sochi with 16 medals – seven gold, two silver and seven bronze.
"The commitment, dedication and spirit shown by our athletes in Sochi are an inspiration to all Canadians," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). "We are proud to support the Canadian Paralympic Team and celebrate its remarkable achievements."
The 2014 Sport Award recipients are:
- Best Games Debut: para-alpine skiers Mac Marcoux (Sault-Ste-Marie, Ont.) and guide Robin Fémy (Mont-Tremblant, Que.) blazed to a brilliant debut in Sochi, winning one gold and two bronze medals in visually-impaired para-alpine skiing; Marcoux was just 16 years old.
- Best Team Performance: The Canadian Wheelchair Curling Team won its third straight Paralympic Games gold medal with their win in Sochi, setting records along the way for most points and largest margin of victory.
- Best Male Athlete: Brian McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) and guides Erik Carleton (Canmore, Alta.) and Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse, Yukon) combined to win three gold medals in visually-impaired para-Nordic skiing in Sochi; McKeever was Canada's most decorated athlete at these Games.
- Best Female Athlete: Two-time Paralympian wheelchair curler Ina Forrest (Armstrong, B.C.) used her trademark accuracy and mental focus in her position as Second to help Canada win the wheelchair curling gold medal in Sochi. Forrest also won wheelchair curling Paralympic gold in Vancouver 2010.
- Para-Development Coach: Teacher Mari Ellery (Toronto, Ont.) has been coaching parasport for over 30 years; her work at the development level in para-canoe has translated in to national and international success for several of her athletes.
- Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence: Head coach of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team, Jean Sébastien Labrie (Plessisville, Que.) built a strong culture of performance on the team and guided his squad to eight medals in Sochi, representing half of Canada's total medal haul at the Games.
Biographies and photos of Sport Awards recipients are available here: http://paralympic.ca/2014-sport-awards-recipients
Videos of each recipient can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/CDNParalympics
I'd like to thank my brother BJ [Mac's original para-alpine ski guide, who could not race in Sochi due to injury]. It's been a long road and we brought ourselves here and I'd also like to thank Rob [guide Robin Fémy]. If it weren't for Rob, we wouldn't be standing here today. It's pretty awesome.
- Mac Marcoux –Best Games Debut with guide Robin Fémy
I get the prize today, but it's more like a team prize. BJ, Mac's brother, brought him all the way here. He unfortunately injured himself before the Games, so I had to step in. I'm the one that competed, but this one goes to BJ too.
- Guide Robin Fémy - Best Games debut with Mac Marcoux
This really is more of a team award. Although it ultimately comes down to throwing the rock, there is a lot of team effort that goes in to it before that happens. I have tremendous teammates and staff, and everything is there to make the athletes play the very best they can be.
- Ina Forrest - Best Female Athlete award
Sochi was a great experience. Our whole team came together really strongly, everybody did a great job, from coaching and support staff wax techs, everybody raised their level. The fact that we had two excellent guides certainly made my job much easier. I know they're going to give me their best. It's a team effort as opposed to individual, so this award is more about coaches, our wax techs and our guides than it is about me.
- Brian McKeever – Best Male Athlete with guides Erik Carleton and Graham Nishikawa
This truly is a pleasure and a real honour. Wheelchair curling has only been around 14, 15 years but we have been well adopted by the Canadian Curling Association and all the sponsors. We've developed a presence that far exceeds our numbers in the way we've been embraced by the curling community and the community at large. It's been a thrill. Here's hoping there's enough tread on these wheels to last another four years.
- Jim Armstrong - Best Team Performance: The Canadian Wheelchair Curling Team
It's a real honour to receive this, especially for the team. In alpine ski racing, it takes a lot of people behind the team to help them perform. I would like to share this award with the four coaches we worked together especially the two years leading to Sochi. I'd like Sven Pouliot, Lasse Ericsson and Jocelyn Huot to share in this beautiful moment.
- Jean Sébastien Labrie Head coach of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team - Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence award
I started coaching parasport at Variety Village, coaching track and field. That's where my love of coaching was fuelled. We do this for the athletes. It's all about them. As coaches we share the same commitment and passion in creating sport opportunities for athletes with a disability. We try to inspire each athlete to be the best they can be.
- Mari Ellery - Para-Development Coach award
About the Canadian Paralympic Committee
The Canadian Paralympic Committee is a non-profit, private organization with 25 member sports organizations dedicated to strengthening the Paralympic Movement. The Canadian Paralympic Committee's vision is to be the world's leading Paralympic nation. Its mission is to lead the development of a sustainable Paralympic sport system in Canada to enable athletes to reach the podium at the Paralympic Games. By supporting Canadian high performance athletes with a disability and promoting their success, the Canadian Paralympic Committee inspires all Canadians with a disability to get involved in sport through programs delivered by its member organizations. For more information, visit www.paralympic.ca
Image with caption: "Athletes in para-alpine skiing, para-Nordic skiing and wheelchair curling took centre stage today as stars of the Sochi 2014 Canadian Paralympic Team and the broader Canadian Paralympic movement were fêted at the 2014 Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards ceremony. (CNW Group/Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140919_C3909_PHOTO_EN_5794.jpg
SOURCE: Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC)
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