Kings County para-athletes have sights set on Canada Games medals
By Jennifer Hoegg
David Bambrick is looking forward to donning Team Nova Scotia gear this week.
The Wolfville para-athlete will compete in both shot put and discuss during the second week of the multi-sport competition in Sherbrooke, Que.
“It’s my first and only Canada Games so it’s pretty sweet to represent your province and put on that jersey with the flag on it,” the 29-year-old said last week.
“It’s pretty sweet to represent your province.
“When I was a little kid I played all kinds of sports, but just town teams,” Bambrick said. “This is my biggest accomplishment yet to represent my province.”
Canada Games is a step towards the goal of representing Canada at the 2015 Para Pan Am games in Toronto. After that?
“My major goal is to represent Canada in 2016 in Rio,” he said.
Not much holds Bambrick back rom his goals.
Bambrick has cerebral palsy in his right side and came to his sport through participating in Acadia’s SMILE program.
“The former co-ordinator of SMILE Ueli Albert talked to me one day.”
The para-athletic coach, and national wheelchair coach, connected Bambrick to Steve Wohlmuth with Launchers’ Athletics.
“As you can see by my size, I’m not the Usein Bolt,” Bambrick said, laughing. “At 240 pounds, I’m not going to get the nine seconds for 100 metres.
Throwing the shot put, however, Bambrick can do well.
“That was in 2009 and I’ve been with Steve ever since,” Bambrick said. “He’s an awesome coach.”
The coach has faith in Bambrick, too.
“I believe David will be on the podium,” he said last week, “the question is what colour?”
Wohlmuth said Bambrick is still learning after three years in the sport, and only a month in discus, but is ready to compete in shotput and discus.
“Although David has CP, I continue to push him to higher levels,” Wohlmuth added “No special treatment with me. Hopefully this will be a positive experience to advance David onto the international para-track and field stage.”
Training six days a week in the weight room and on the track, Bambrick has been dedicating himself to his athletic goals, even giving up his work as the Acadia hockey team’s equipment manager.
“I have to give up something to gain something,” he said.
Preparation has also been about fundraising and Bambrick said he is grateful for generous supporters.
“I would really like to thank the community and my family for all the support,” Bambrick said. Especially his parents, he added. “They let my try everything in sport.”
While Bambrick is thrilled to be with Team Nova Scotia for the first time, 25-year-old Ben Brown is competing in his third winter games.
Injured in an off-road vehicle accident, the Weston-native has retrained as a wheelchair athlete and represented the province in track at the 2009 summer games and wheelchair basketball at the 2011 winter games.
Sherbrooke will also be his last Games, Brown says.
“I’m using it as a stepping stone for the next thing,” he said last week, “which is either world championships or the Para Pan Ams.”
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Like Bambrick, he has his sights set on the 2016 Paralympics and has been fully dedicated to wheelchair racing for the past two years.
“If you’re going to try to make the Paraympics in a sport, you can’t do other sports,” he said. “It takes a whole dedication that not a lot of people understand.
“ I truly stepped up my commitment in the fall of 2011 when I realized this is the sport that’s going to get me to travel the world, get to the Paralympics, enable me to get an education that allows me to get a fulltime career,” he added.
As part of that mission, Brown’s goal is to be on the podium in Sherbrooke for both the 200-metre and 400-metre races.
“And personal bests, increase my world rankings for the end of the season and finish the season as strong as I started it or stronger,” he added.
“We’re in the business of doing well and doing my very best, not of participating.”
After dropping 10 seconds off his 400 time in the last year, Brown is having a good season and thinks he has what it takes to medal.
“Everything has been clicking very well,” he said.
To get there, he has been training hard with coach Albert Ueli and facing the challenges of travel and fundraising to pay for equipment, fuel and living.
Finding the right surface to train one – the Acadia track is too soft – is one of the challenges, meaning Brown’s schedule includes frequent travel to Halifax to train at Saint Mary’s and at the Oval on the Commons.
At home, he hits the asphalt.
“My distance on the road can be a minimum 10, maximum 15 (kilometre) in 45 minutes,” Brown said. “People in Aylesford, Cambridge, Berwick have all seen me.
After all the work and concentration, he’s ready to race.
“Looking forward to getting on the track and being the best I can be and hopefully shocking the country.”
What to watch
4:50 p.m. ADT
400 M wheelchair preliminary
Personal best: 58.41 seconds
Personal best: 11.33 metre
2:50 p.m. ADT
200 M wheelchair preliminary
Personal best: 30.04 seconds
3:45 and 4:15 p.m.
400 M wheelchair finals
2:20 and 3:20 p.m.
200 M wheelchair finals
Personal best: 27.94 metres