Toronto Parapan Am Games : Athletes with Abilities

August 7, 2015 | TPL Staff

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This is our closing piece on the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Parapan Am Games. To highlight our sports collection at the Toronto Reference Library, we looked at athletic facilities, various aspects of sport, special materials collected on the Pan American Games and, last but not least, we’ll look at competitive sports and the disabled.

Sport for athletes with disabilities has existed for more than 100 years. Sports was first used as a route to rehabilitation for injured war victims. In time, rehabilitation sport evolved to recreational sport and then to competitive sport. The first Paralympic Games took place in 1960 in Rome, Italy and featured 400 athletes from 23 countries competing in 8 sports. Since then, the Paralympic Games have taken place every four years.

                                   Paralympics explained

Toronto is host to the fifth edition of the Parapan Am Games and will feature 1,500 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports. All sports will be Paralympic qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on some outstanding athletes and the various competitions available to these talented para-athletes. Prepared to be amazed.

The athletes who participate are not necessarily born with a disability. More often than not, they have been disabled through a life-threatening accident. If they were active, athletic and courageous before, the challenge of recovery and going on with life seems to bring out incredible strength and perseverance.

Let’s start with some Canadian biographies:

Through interviews with key figures, Irresistible force : disability sport in Canada gives both the history of disability sports and the personal stories of gifted athletes who gave, and continue to give disability sports their irresistible momentum.

                                  Irresistible force

Parapan athletes Rick Hansen

Familiar to many is Rick Hansen : man in motion and Going the distance : seven steps to personal change. In 1973, Rick Hansen was a carefree teenager who lived and breathed sports. But after the truck he was riding in went out of control and crashed, Hansen was left a paraplegic. For some people that could have been the end. For Rick it was the beginning of a story that is at once sad and funny, heartbreaking and inspirational.



Parapan Victoria NolanBeyond vision : the story of a blind rower is the story of Victoria Nolan, one of Canada's Paralympic Super Athletes. As a teenager, she found out that she was going blind from an eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Having a family would result in further vision loss. Not deterred, Victoria had two children and lost most of her vision. She did not want her children to see their mother as someone who "couldn't" so she sought opportunities to prove herself. That's when she started rowing.

Discovering her competitive fire, Victoria made the Canadian National Adaptive Rowing Team in 2007. In this collection, Victoria Nolan travels the world winning medals and breaking records. This personal story of triumph will inspire as she describes her frustration, her hard work, and her growing sense of accomplishment.

And more stories. Such a tribute to the human spirit!

Hoop Dream on Wheels So Get On With It Wheelchair Sports Guts! 27 Courageous People 100 Greatest Olympians




The Toronto Reference Library also has some magazines on sports and disabilities as well as videos and DVDs.

Abilities Summer 2015 Palaestra 2015 Sports 'n' Spokes July 2015








Murderball will leave you breathless!

Come to the Toronto Reference Library to  learn more about these amazing athletes and competitive sport.