A Stroke of Brilliance

The life of a typical 13 year old girl involves pop music, boys and school but this post is not about an ordinary teenage girl. It’s about Danielle Bailey, an amazing British swimmer and future Paralympic hopeful. Danielle contracted meningitis at an early age and lost both her arms and legs as a result of the illness. In spite of that, she pursued the sport fueled by determination and persistence, and remarkably swims at the same level expected of a 16 year old able-bodied swimmer.

Disability sports have classifications ranging from S1 to S15 with S1 being the most serious disability. Danielle is categorized as an S4 swimmer and incredibly started swimming only one year ago.  With a number of medals under her belt, a true love for the sport and the immense support from her parents, Danielle is well on her way to Paralympic glory. Olympic fever is heightening with only 12 months until the London 2012 Games.

It is remarkable how athletes like Danielle can turn a disability into a potential gold medal. You can read more about her story here.

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Inspiring athletes

We think of Olympians as highly dedicated athletes who rise to the top of their chosen sport after many years of hard work.  For the world’s almost 4000 Paralympians, that dedication comes with incredible determination for overcoming the first hurdle  – a disability.  Over the past 50 years, the Paralympics have grown from 6 to 28 sports providing more opportunities for athletes to participate and fans to cheer them on.

The sports are often adapted from traditional sports through special equipment.  Although not yet an official Paralympic sport, power wheelchair soccer may one day be added to the roster.  Created for athletes with severe disabilities, the ball is super-sized and the play is fast, with agility and strategy the major prerequisites for winning.

Like their Olympic cousins, these athletes count on support from the community, the government and corporations.  Savaria was proud to support a wheelchair rugby tournament held by the Quebec Wheelchair Sports Association (AQSFR).   If you’re looking for a thrilling and inspiring spectator sport, why not take in a Paralympic or hopeful Paralympic sport in your community.

For more information about power wheelchair soccer take a look at this article and you can watch it in action here. If you would like to learn more about the Quebec Wheelchair Sports Association click here. If you would like more information on the International Paralympic Committee click here.




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