Northumberland primed for ‘best-ever’ Ontario ParaSport Games

COBOURG (MAY 26) – Sports venues are spruced up, volunteers trained and opening ceremonies set for the Ontario ParaSport Games in Northumberland County starting Friday.

"After nearly two years of hard work, we’re ready for the best Games ever," says Chair Paul Macklin of the biggest multi-sport competition in Northumberland’s history. "Community response is heartening, and spirits high."

About 300 Ontario para-athletes, coaches and sport officials will participate in medal competitions in eight adaptive sports. They are: sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, para-equestrian events, boccia, blind golf, amputee golf and hand cycling.

Competitions for gold, silver and bronze medals – created in Northumberland -- will take place at accessible sports venues in Cobourg, Port Hope, Hamilton Township, Brighton and Colborne. All five communities are spaced along the scenic Lake Ontario shoreline an hour or so east of Toronto on Highway 401.

In addition, 60 para-athletes from across Canada will complement the formal Games agenda by participating in training camps or national team tryouts in four sports: sitting volleyball, para-soccer, para-cycling and para-triathlon.

"Sport Alliance Ontario is extremely excited about the upcoming Ontario ParaSport Games in Northumberland County," says Sport Alliance Ontario Chair Marc Seguin.

"We appreciate all the hard work and planning from the Host Community, Games Organizing Committee and volunteers."

Seguin praises the partners and sponsors "who have made these games possible. We look forward to seeing all the athletes compete at the games and wish them luck."

Says Joe Millage, chair, ParaSport Ontario: "Throughout these events we will witness great performances and even greater demonstrations of conquering adversity, of accepting the spotlight and stating proudly. ‘Watch what I can do.’

"For all the athletes, this is the next step towards excellence, and an opportunity to raise the bar to new personal bests, and it definitely establishes Northumberland as a world-class community."

Organizers hope the Games – with the theme "Raising the Bar – Together" – will raise awareness of accessibility issues, lower barriers, and encourage more young people with a disability to leave the sidelines and participate in sport and recreation.

"Our mandate as a community-based, volunteer-driven organization goes well beyond playing host to three days of friendly competition and fun," Macklin says.

In 2012, less than 3 per cent of Canadian children with a disability participated regularly in any form of recreation. After the London Paralympics that year, Canada’s participation rate slipped to 12th from 7th in the world.

All Games competitions are open to the public, with no admission fees. Spectators will be invited to drop a few coins into a bucket at the Gate, and receive a souvenir bracelet.

Opening night ceremonies are set for the Cobourg Community Centre on Friday, at 7 p.m. Headliner for the gala is Canadian singer-songwriter Alan Frew of the band Glass Tiger. Frew co-wrote I Believe, the popular anthem from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Tickets are $20, available at the door, cash sales only.

For further details and an up-to-date schedule of competitions, events and venues, please visit the Games website: www.2014parasportgames.ca.

The official website includes a set of eight inspirational para-athlete videos intended to put human faces on the Games as never before. You can also follow the Games on Twitter and Facebook.

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