Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Welcome Ceremony: Canada's Paralympic Team Keen to Follow Olympic Success

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Welcome Ceremony: Canada's Paralympic Team Keen to Follow Olympic Success

Article excerpt

Paralympians keen to follow Olympic success

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PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of - Canada's team at the Pyeongchang Paralympics is keen to follow the path of excellence laid down by their Olympic counterparts last month.

Less than two weeks after Canada's Olympic team left South Korea, the Paralympic team of 55 athletes and guides watched the Maple Leaf go up at the traditional flag-raising ceremony at the athletes village Wednesday night.

They spoke of being inspired by the Olympic team's record 29-medal performance. They talked about how they can't wait for their chance.

"I think people are surprised how close we are with a lot of the Olympians, especially people who train . . . in some of the more dominant training centres," said para hockey player Greg Westlake. "We're side by side, all the Olympians all year long, and then they go to their Games and we go to ours. I had friends compete in those Games . . . when you see them stand on the podium, singing the anthem, it gives you those goosebumps."

Canada's goal is to top its performance four years ago in Sochi, where the team won 16 medals to finish fourth overall.

Two days before Friday's opening ceremonies, they sang along to O Canada. They bobbed their heads to the thumping music, while traditional South Korean dancers performed alongside b-boys.

"It's the first event as a team, and it's one of the first days that all of team Canada has moved into the building, so it's really exciting because it makes it feel like the Paralympics have kind of started, and that Paralympic spirit has really set in," said Erin Latimer, an alpine skier who'll compete in five events. "It's super exciting. I can't formulate my thoughts properly because I'm still riding the wave of excitement, but yeah, all good feelings."

Yves Bourque, a para-nordic skier who was born without legs -- he wheeled along on a skateboard at Wednesday's event -- echoed Latimer's excitement. …

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