MONTREAL – A snowmobile accident recently left hockey prospect Vincent Boily with a partial paralysis. On Saturday, he began his search for a new sports dream at the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Paralympian Search held at the Institut national du sport du Québec.
Boily, who turned 18 last week, was playing AAA Midget for the St-Eustache Vikings when the accident happened in December.
‘’I’m excited to be training seriously again,’’ said Boily, originally from Jonquiere, Que., and now living in Montreal. ‘’It felt good being here. I’ve always been very active and been involved in sports all my life.’’
Despite the shock of the accident, the upbeat Boily has turned the page surprisingly quickly.
‘’I felt getting back into sports would be the best solution for me,’’ he said. ‘’I started researching various options and I found out about the Paralympian Search on the social networks. I’ve been doing physio three times a week and I’m working hard to get back into shape.’’
Paralympian Search is a one-day identification event designed to test participant aptitudes to excel in various Paralympic sports, and maybe one day represent Canada at the Paralympic Games.
Many others were at Paralympian Search to gain information on which sports would best adapt to their disability.
‘’What’s great about this event is that it encompasses all of the Paralympic sports,’’ said Allison Huether, a 35-year-old hospital worker who drove from Toronto to attend. “I like the fact they have knowledgeable staff here for each of the sports who can help you.’’
Huether was a provincial level gymnast and participated in many sports before a car accident left her with partial paralysis nine years ago.
‘’Since my accident I have not been involved much in sports,’’ she said. ‘’So I’m coming here to definitely get back into it. The sports I did before my injury I certainly can’t do them the same way so I want to do sports that I can adapt to my functionality.’’
Of course, the most astute observers at Paralympian Search were the national team coaches who all agreed there was a high quality of athletic talent on display.
‘’It’s a great opportunity for us to come out to meet some people, scout some talent and get some opportunities to get people out in sport,’’ said Marc Creamer, Paracanoe national coach and manager for CanoeKayak Canada. ‘’For us in paddling we are looking at big upper body strength and people who want to be engaged and achieve the next level.’’
Current Paralympians were also on hand to encourage the participants. They included boccia Paralympic Games medallist Marco Dispaltro, Para judo Pan Am champions Priscilla Gagné and Justin Karn and Para snowboarder Sandrine Hamel.
‘’I would have loved to have an opportunity like this when I started out,’’ said Gagné. ‘’It’s great to be introduced to a bunch of different sports and meet other people with physical disabilities.’’
Jenny Davey, manager, System Development and Education for the CPC said the Paralympian Search event in Montreal was a success.
“We know it can sometimes be challenging for individuals to find the right sport that suits their needs and interests,’’ she said. ‘’We hope that this event can be a launch pad for people to learn about what’s out there, and a way for people to get involved in a sport that they can get passionate about.’’
The 18 participants were greeted by event ambassador Alexandre Dupont who admitted that before his motorcycle accident at age 17, which cost him a leg, he didn’t play much sports.
‘’Today everyone sees the medal and the fact that I competed at two Paralympic Games,’’ said the recent Commonwealth Games wheelchair racing champion. ‘’But sport helped get me back into shape. I also met my wife through sport and we had a child together. We started a business that makes equipment for people with a disability.
‘’Sport can bring a variety of great things to your life.’’