Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Chef De Mission Nicholson Celebrates Paralympic Growth 100 Days Out

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Chef De Mission Nicholson Celebrates Paralympic Growth 100 Days Out

Article excerpt

Pyeongchang Paralympics open in 100 days

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TORONTO - Todd Nicholson has two favourite memories from his five Paralympic appearances.

The first was his Paralympic debut in 1994 in Lillehammer where it was easy to spot his parents in the stands at Canada's opening sledge hockey game. They were two of just six spectators.

"These are two people who were farmers for a small town, who travelled halfway around the world to watch me play a game that I didn't think I'd be able to play ever again after my accident," Nicholson said.

His other favourite memory is his Paralympic finale 2010 in Vancouver, where UBC Thunderbird Arena was jam-packed and included 75 friends from his hometown of Dunrobin, Ont.

The 48-year-old Nicholson is the chef de mission of Canada's Paralympic team in Pyeongchang, which open 100 days from now, and pausing from his celebrations of the 100 days out mark, he reflected on the growth of Paralympic sport that he's seen first-hand.

"We're getting more and more to where the attendance in the stadiums is getting bigger and bigger," said Nicholson. "One of the things looking at the Games in Rio, we were really worried in regards to ticket sales, and we ended up breaking all kinds of records in Rio."

"Will that happen in Pyeongchang? I don't know. I'm hopeful," he added.

Nicholson has been a paraplegic since a car accident on prom night. He played for Canada's sledge hockey team for 24 years, 15 of them as the team captain, and has captured Paralympic gold and silver. If there's a way to measure the increase in popularity of the Paralympics, he said it's that he never has to explain his sport anymore.

"Paralympic sport is becoming more and more well-known, and people have an understanding of what it is, and how it's played, and who plays it," said Nicholson, who was Canada's flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Turin Paralympics. …

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