VANCOUVER, March 16 /CNW/ - As a Worldwide Sponsor of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Visa Canada proudly congratulates Team Visa members Brian McKeever and Colette Bourgonje on their medal-winning performances at Whistler Paralympic Park.
Yesterday, Brian won Canada's first gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in cross-country skiing, men's 20 kilometre free, visually impaired event. This past Sunday, Colette delivered Canada's first medal of the Paralympic Winter Games with a silver in cross-country skiing, women's 10 kilometre, sitting event.
"Visa has been a proud supporter of Brian and Colette since they first joined the Team Visa program in 2005. Over the years, we've watched both athletes compete with tremendous determination, grace and spirit - achieving success here in Canada and on the world stage," said Brenda Woods, Head of Marketing, Visa Canada. "We extend heartfelt congratulations to Colette and Brian as they make Canada proud with their gold and silver medal wins at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games."
Brian began cross-country skiing at the early age of three, and began competing by thirteen. In 1998, he reached the international level at the World Junior Championships for able-bodied skiers in Pontresina, Switzerland, making him one of Canada's best cross-country skiers.
At 19, Brian began losing his vision due to a rare genetic condition, Stargardt's disease. Despite challenges, Brian began competing in para-nordic skiing with his brother Robin acting as his guide. An accomplished athlete, yesterday's gold medal win marks Brian's eighth medal won at a Paralympic Winter Games: Brian won silver and two gold medals at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games and two gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
As a teenager, Colette reached the national level in cross-country running. In 1991, following a car accident that paralyzed her from the waist down, she began sit-skiing and soon started competing.
Colette, who has competed in both Summer and Winter Paralympic Games and in numerous national and world championships, won two silver medals at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Winter Games and two bronze medals at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
Colette was the first wheelchair student to earn a degree in physical education from the University of Saskatchewan. She has been named "athlete of the year" on several occasions and the town of Saskatoon named a street in her honour. Colette, who has participated in speaking engagements in Canada, Sweden and Guyana, now works as an elementary school teacher.
About Team Visa
Brian and Colette are members of Team Visa, a unique global program dedicated to supporting amateur athletes as they prepare for one of the greatest athletic challenges of their lives: competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Visa empowers amateur athletes to achieve their dreams by providing long-term financial support, mentorship and valuable marketing exposure in pursuit of their Olympic and Paralympic goals. In Canada, Brian and Colette are featured in Visa's Go World Olympic marketing campaign, including television advertising and merchant marketing materials. For the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Team Visa supports more than 30 individual athletes from Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia as part of the Team Visa program.
Since 1986, Visa's commitment to the Olympic Movement, National Olympic Committees, national teams and individual athletes has been an important factor in ensuring the continuance and success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Visit www.visa.ca/goworld.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks - VisaNet - that is capable of handling more than 10,000 transactions a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.
SOURCE VISA Canada Corporation
For further information: For further information: Teri Broughton, Visa Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org, (416) 860-8869