- BC Games
Olympic Youth reporter
As Vancouver prepares for the world to arrive for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games, many athletes are still busy preparing.
Paralympic hopeful Andrea Holmes is one of them. She’s been busy training in an effort to qualify for the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team.
Holmes was born with a disfigurement of her left foot referred to as Congenital Fibular Hemimelia. Her parents were forced to make a difficult decision — amputate her foot or do nothing which would restricted Holmes to a wheelchair or the life-long use crutches. Her parents opted for amputation, allowing Holmes to have an active lifestyle while using a prosthetic leg.
Holmes received her first prosthetic leg when she was six months old. While growing up on the North Shore, Holmes was always involved in sports. She often didn’t see herself as having a disability as she competed with other able-bodied athletes, such as the time in Grade 6 where she won bronze medal for the high jump at the BC Track and Field Championships.
It was during the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City when she became aware of the opportunity to compete as a Paralympic athlete. By 2004 Holmes was representing Canada at the Paralympics Games in Athens where she placed eighth in the long jump. She later competed in the 2007 Para Pan Am Games held in Rio de Janeiro winning Bronze. While standing on the podium with her medal and flowers, as the Canadian Flag raised overhead, Holmes realized how cool it would be to compete for Canada in the 2010 Paralympic Games in her home town.
Holmes’s been skiing since she was three years old. Alpine skiing includes three main classification categories: blind and partially sighted skiers; standing skiers; and sitting skiers. Using a prosthetic leg Holmes qualifies as a standing skier.
As an Ambassador for the Paralympics Games in Canada Holmes goes to speaking engagements to talk about her quest and Paralympians.
The first Paralympic Winter Games was held in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, in 1976. Today it’s projected approximately 1,350 athletes and officials representing over 40 countries will participate in the Games. When asked what improvements she would like to see for the Paralympics Holmes said more media exposure. She believes the Paralympics are inspiring and its athletes not only roles models but great human interest stories. Most Paralympic athletes have the courage to talk about themselves and what they’re going through, Holmes said, which is an inspiration to others.
With the final team selection being decided in February, Holmes plans to keep busy with both her training regime and her duties as Ambassador which for now includes being on tour with the Olympic Torch Relay team. She’ll be signing autographs and spreading Paralympics message to other communities.
When it comes to the Paralympics, you’ve often got to be savvy to know where to look for races and results, says Nathan Clement.
That’s one thing he wants to change. One day the 15-year-old West Vancouver secondary school student hopes to compete in them.
When Clement was two and a half years old he suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body.
Today, with physical therapy and family support, Clement is involved in multiple sports. Coming from an active family with his younger brother and sister — Kenny and Maurina — and being enrolled in the school’s sports leadership program, Clement says he’s always trying to improve his athleticism.
“I won’t say I am the best (athlete) in the class, but I am one of the hardest working students,” he says. “My disability is kind of a motivator.”