OTTAWA – Master Corporal Mike Trauner, who lost both his legs while deployed in Afghanistan in 2008, has a new lease on life. It is called national team Para athlete and he couldn’t be happier.
The 38-year-old Ottawa resident made news at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, both for winning double gold in indoor Para rowing and the role Prince Harry played in his success at the Games.
In early 2017 at an Invictus promotional event in Toronto, Prince Harry met Trauner, listened to his story then challenged him to participate in the Games that were later that year in the Ontario Capital. Their story was a hit with both the national and international media.
One year later Trauner made the national Para canoe team after his athletic talents were confirmed at the Paralympian Search in Toronto in November 2017. The next Paralympian Searches are coming up October 27 at the Toronto Pan Am Sport Centre and November 24 at WinSport in Calgary.
‘’Having done the Invictus Games I already had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into doing the Paralympian Search,’’ said Trauner. ‘’Everybody was very supportive, the coaches were very encouraging and gave me a lot of good feedback.’’
Paralympian Search is a one-day event designed to test participant aptitudes to excel in various Paralympic sports, with a goal of discovering athletes with high performance potential. The event welcomes people ages 14 and above with a visual or physical disability, including current or former athletes from all levels aiming to transfer into a new Paralympic sport or learn a new sport that can complement their main discipline.
With his visibility through the Invictus Games, Trauner was a familiar face to many of the other participants at the Paralympian Search he attended.
‘’It was great to meet other people with disabilities who were also interested in being active,’’ he said. ‘’It was wonderful to share each other’s experiences. Hopefully my story of coming back from such a shattering experience encouraged others that they could lead a happy and fulfilling life through their disability.’’
That Paralympian Search was a fruitful one for CanoeKayak Canada (CKC). Not only did they recruit Trauner but also Ed Urquhart, Andrea Nelson and Miguel Sanchez, all of Toronto, who were with Trauner on the 2018 Para canoe Pan Am Championships team.
“I got some great pictures of us doing the testing together at the Paralympian Search,’’ he said. “Sure enough we went and met with CKC and now we are competing and training together.”
He was also recommended to try sit skiing, hand cycling, Para ice hockey and wheelchair tennis.
‘’The CKC coaches told me I had what it takes to succeed at the international level. It was also obvious I had a perfect body type for paddling. With my experience in rowing it was certainly worth trying out.’’
Now with the 2019 Parapan American Games and 2020 Paralympic Games on the horizon, Trauner hopes to hang a few medals around his paddles in the coming years.
To register for the nest Paralympian Searches visit: http://paralympic.ca/paralympiansearch