OTTAWA – Canada’s wheelchair curling team will have no shortage of experience at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, with three of the five athletes announced today by the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Curling Canada having multiple Games under their belts, accounting for an impressive combined seven total medals.
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling team is:
1. Ina Forrest – Spallumcheen, BC
2. Mark Ideson – London, ON
3. Collinda Joseph – Ottawa, ON
4. Dennis Thiessen – Crystal City, MB
5. Jon Thurston – Dunsford, ON
Mark Ideson will be skipping the Canadian squad for the second consecutive Games in what will be his third overall Paralympic appearance. He, along with returning players Ina Forrest and Dennis Thiessen, took home the gold medal in Sochi in 2014 and the bronze in PyeongChang in 2018.
“It’s such an honour to be selected for what will be my third Paralympics,” said Ideson. “Going once was incredible, but having the opportunity to wear the maple leaf again is amazing. That’s really what it’s about, opportunity. Opportunity for athletes living with disabilities to represent their country in their chosen sport, and to be seen and witnessed as athletes striving for their dreams to sing their anthem atop the podium.”
Forrest, who also competed at the Vancouver 2010 Games winning gold, is one of the world’s most decorated wheelchair curlers.
“The Paralympics are the goal you set and strive for during the quadrennial,” said Forrest. “Being at the Paralympics means being part of the whole Team Canada, meeting other Canadian athletes and cheering them on. Every experience is different, but each is utterly amazing.”
Rounding out the team are first-time Paralympians Jon Thurston and Collinda Joseph. Thurston and Joseph have both represented Canada in three recent world championships, with Thurston often throwing the critical last rocks for the Canadians.
“This is a dream come true,” said Thurston. “It’s a goal that I have been working on for a long time now. It’s such an honour to be able to represent Canada at the highest level. Having the opportunity to compete against the world’s best on the biggest stage with our incredibly talented team is something I’m incredibly excited for.”
Though the last two years of training and competition have been significantly impacted due to COVID-19, the Canadians have participated in three world championships. In 2019, after an off year dropped the country to the B world championships, Canada won gold to earn promotion back to the upper echelon of the sport. The team then won silver at the 2020 world championships and most recently finished fifth in the 2021 iteration.
“It’s an absolute honour to be a part of this team,” said head coach Mick Lizmore, who will be appearing at his first Paralympic Games after taking on the head coaching role in 2020. “We’re going to do whatever we can to support our athletes, and I’m so excited to see what we can accomplish together.”
Lizmore will be supported in Beijing by team leader Wendy Morgan, who has been head of Canada’s national wheelchair curling program since 2005 and team lead at the past four Paralympic Winter Games.
Wheelchair curling joined the Paralympic Winter Games program in 2006, and since then Canada has captured three gold medals (2006, 2010, 2014) and one bronze medal (2018).
The wheelchair curling tournament in Beijing will take place March 5-12, with the preliminary rounds running March 5-10. Canada’s schedule is as follows (all listed times local to Beijing):
March 5: Canada vs. China 2:35 p.m. / Canada vs. Switzerland 7:35 p.m.
March 6: Canada vs. Latvia 2:35 p.m.
March 7: Canada vs. USA 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. Sweden 7:35 p.m.
March 8: Canada vs. South Korea 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. Slovakia 7:35 p.m.
March 9: Canada vs. Great Britain 2:35 p.m. / Canada vs. Estonia 7:35 p.m.
March 10: Canada vs. Norway 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. RPC 2:35 p.m.
“A very warm welcome to the team to our wheelchair curlers Mark, Ina, Dennis, Jon, and Collinda,” said Josh Dueck, chef de mission, Beijing 2022 Canadian Paralympic Team. “Canada has always been one of the best nations in wheelchair curling and I know this team will continue to make us proud. With three Paralympic champions and stalwarts in the sport Mark, Ina, and Dennis returning for another opportunity to compete at the Games, and first-time Paralympians Jon and Collinda adding their talents, this team will always be in a strong position to do well. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to cheering them on in Beijing.”
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will take place March 4-13, 2022 in China. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 50 athletes, and audiences across the country will be able to follow all the action live through coverage from the Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium, including broadcast partners CBC/Radio-Canada, AMI, and Sportsnet, and digital partners Twitter, Facebook, and MXZN.
CLICK HERE to see the complete list of athletes named to the Canadian Paralympic Team. The Canadian Paralympic Committee will announce the official full team set to compete closer to the Games.
Story and Photo courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.