OTTAWA â€” Swimmer Aurelie Rivard was named best female athlete and cyclist Tristen Chernove took home best Games debut honours Friday night at the 2017 Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame and Sport Awards ceremony.
Rivard of St-Jean-sur Richelieu, Que., was Canada’s top medal producer at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, winning four medals in the pool, including three gold and one silver.
“I still feel like yesterday I was this 13-year-old girl making her first national team and never would have thought that I would be a three-time gold medallist and winning the athlete of the year award,” Rivard said. “I have my eyes on Tokyo for sure, so hopefully I can make you guys proud again in the next four years.”
Chernove of Cranbrook, B.C., spearheaded a record nine-medal performance for Canada’s Para cycling team in Rio. He took gold in the time trial road race, silver in the individual pursuit and bronze in the 1,000-metre time trial.
Sebastien Travers of Bromont, Que., received the Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence Award. Travers is the national Para cycling team head coach who directed Canadian cyclists to an impressive nine-medal tally in Rio, making cycling the most successful Paralympic sport for Canada at the Games.
Maxime Gagnon of Montreal received the Development Coach of the Year Award. Gagnon is the Quebec provincial team head coach and director general of Hockey sur luge Montreal. Gagnon is credited with growing the popularity of Para ice hockey (formerly known as sledge hockey) significantly in the city of Montreal and province of Quebec.
Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with a Disability, headlined a group of five individuals inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame.
Qualtrough, from Delta, B.C., was inducted in the builder category with Archie Allison of Toronto and Maureen Orchard of Winnipeg. Named in the coach category was Ozzie Sawicki of Cochrane, Alta., and Karolina Wisniewska of Calgary was inducted in the athlete category.
Qualtrough, a triple Paralympic medallist in swimming, was a key player in Vancouver’s bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games as president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
Wisniewska is a three-time Paralympian and winner of eight Paralympic medals in Para alpine skiing. She won two silver medals at Nagano in 1998, two silver and two bronze medals in Salt Lake City in 2002 and two bronze at Vancouver 2010.
Sawicki was head coach of the Canadian Para alpine ski team which won 12 of the total 15 medals earned by Canada at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games. In 2014, he was Canada’s Chef de Mission in Sochi where Canada ranked third in the gold medal count with seven gold, two silver and seven bronze.
Orchard brings more than 30 years of experience and dedication to wheelchair basketball. She is currently the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) secretary general.
Allison is a longtime advocate of Paralympic sport and has been involed with Toronto’s Variety Village, a centre that helps people with a disability develop a healthy lifestyle through sports, fitness and physical activity.
The Canadian Press