Team Canada is on its way to Russia to compete in the 2014 Paralympic Games. One of the athletes representing Canada will be Kevin Rempel, forward for the Canadian sledge hockey team in March.
The 31-year-old Dundas native injured himself in a motocross accident seven years ago. After a long fall, Rempel says he couldn’t move his legs, and it wasn’t until he went to touch his legs that he realized he couldn’t feel them either.
He had suffered a spinal cord injury.
Rempel learned how to stand and walk again, despite doctors’ predictions that he would never walk again.
“The doctor came in and said to me… ‘You’ll likely never walk again. And if you do happen to walk, you’re going to have braces on your legs up to your hips for the rest of your life.’ ”
Rempel refused to believe this, and pushed himself through rehabilitation to get out of his wheelchair.
“The main thing is you just can’t give up. You’ve got to get up and just work on the days you don’t want to. You’ve got to make it a ritual to consistently do those exercises,” said Rempel.
He did get out of his wheelchair and walks on his own again, but he assumed his athletic life was over.
And then he discovered sledge hockey.
“I wish I had known… that there was sports like this out there to look forward to,” said Rempel. “I can’t imagine what my life would be like right now if I didn’t have sledge hockey.”
Canada will send 54 athletes to Sochi to compete in sports including sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, para-alpine skiing, para-snowboard, para-Nordic skiing and biathlon.
“I’m proud to… represent our country and, if you will, the disabled community, for showing people what we’re capable of,” said Rempel.