Retired national wheelchair rugby champion seeking new talent from Kamloops - InfoNews

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Retired national wheelchair rugby champion seeking new talent from Kamloops

Paralympian Ian Chan, 41, will be facilitating Have-A-Go day at the Tournament Capital Centre on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Kevin Bogetti-Smith
January 31, 2019 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS — At only 15, Ian Chan’s life changed forever.

He became a quadriplegic after suffering a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle crash. Prior to his accident, he had always been active in sports and it was something he would have to put on hold while he recovered in a rehabilitation centre.

“I had a three-year span where I wasn’t involved in any sport, and I was just trying to get used to the new injury,” Chan says.

Chan, now 41, met a recreational therapist who introduced him to the sport of wheelchair rugby. Eventually, he says more people encouraged him to get back into sports, including his high school principal and Canadian athlete Rick Hansen, who is also an advocate for people with disabilities.

“I remember meeting [Rick Hansen] once at my high school and he asked me if I played sports and I said no, and then I thought ‘hmm, why am I not playing any sports?’” Chan says.

More than twenty years later, he has competed in several world championships and Paralympics for wheelchair rugby. He has taken home medals in Greece, England, and China and is currently co-captain for the provincial team.

“I made the national team in 1997, and I retired in 2017,” he says. “I had a 20-year run... it was great.”

The retired national team athlete will be stopping by Kamloops on Sunday, Feb. 3 at the Tournament Capital Centre to talk about his experience with the sport.

“I’m coming to share my knowledge about wheelchair rugby and hopefully get some athletes involved,” he says.

Besides staying active, Chan says wheelchair rugby helped him see his disability in a different light.

“Whether if it’s music, art, school or something to focus your energy on other than your disability, I found for me, sports... I used it as a means of gaining control over something I really didn’t have control over," he says.

That’s why Chan says he is looking forward to his trip to Kamloops to speak with people who are looking to get into sports but might not know where to start.

“It’s a big deal… we [B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association] have been trying to get more athletes from anywhere other than the Lower Mainland involved,” he says. “I think there are some people out there that want to get involved with sports or are looking for something to kind of focus on but they just don’t know enough about it.”

Chan will help facilitate the Have-A-Go Day being held this weekend in the city as a representative from the B.C. Wheel Chair Sports Association.

“I think these are great opportunities for people to get a glimpse of what wheelchair rugby is all about.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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