The summer is winding down and the games have come and gone, but the memories and impact they left on the city will be felt forever.
This summer, I had the honour of being part of the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, a major international multi-sport event for athletes with disabilities. Now in its fifth edition, the Games featured 1,500 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports. All of these sports were Paralympic qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Over the course of the event, I had the privilege of volunteering as one of the Lead Medical Practitioners for the Games where I provided chiropractic and first responder services to athletes and volunteers. I was located at the Parapan Am Fields on the sidelines of Football 5-a-side, played by athletes who are visually impaired, and Football 7-a-side, played by athletes who have cerebral palsy or a traumatic brain injury.
Watching the skill, perseverance and sportsmanship of these athletes was truly incredible and inspirational. Above and beyond the skillfulness and ability was the camaraderie. Despite being on different teams from different countries that were in aggressive competition with one another, all athletes looked out for one another and demonstrated true sportsmanship – something I was not expecting to witness at this level of competition and with so much at stake.
Working with the athletes was definitely a highlight of the games, as was working with the amazing multidisciplinary healthcare team including other chiropractors, sports physicians, physiotherapists, massage therapists, athletic therapists, nurses and emergency medical services. Collaborating with such a diverse group of healthcare practitioners at such an exciting event with athletes of this caliber will be an experience I will never forget.
Ian Troop, CEO of the Toronto 2015 organizing committee said, “Sport brings people together, sport overcomes difference, sport builds communities.” I couldn’t agree more.
United We Play.