Parksville’s Trevor Hirschfield will again don the maple leaf for Canada in wheelchair rugby at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
This will be Hirschfield’s fourth Paralympic appearance, having represented Canada in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee and Wheelchair Rugby Canada announced Wednesday (July 28) the 12 wheelchair rugby players who will compete in Tokyo from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Hirschfield will co-captain the team with Patrice Dagenais. The squad squad boasts an experienced roster with nine players returning from previous games: Patrice Simard (Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, Rio); Fabien Lavoie and Mike Whitehead (Athens, Beijing, London, Rio); Travis Murao and Hirschfield (Beijing, London, Rio); Dagenais and Zak Madell (London, Rio); Cody Caldwell and Byron Green (Rio)
Three players will be making their Paralympic debut, Eric Furtado-Rodrigues, Anthony Létourneau and Shayne Smith.
“We’ve had more time than usual to prepare for these Games, in less than ideal circumstances, but I believe we’ve used our time wisely,” said co-captain Hirschfield. “We are bringing three first-time Paralympians to Tokyo and seeing their dedication and enthusiasm has been a huge source of motivation for our team. We have so much drive, talent, and experience in our program. I am honoured to be one of the captains to battle with this team in Tokyo.”
Canada qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in March 2020, just before the pandemic shut down sport competitions worldwide. The final wheelchair rugby qualifying tournament, hosted in Richmond, filled the last two spots for Tokyo. The same roster that suited up for Canada at the qualifier, which saw the country punch its ticket with a semifinal victory, has been named to the Tokyo team. The Paralympic Games will be the team’s first international competition since then.
Currently ranked No. 5 in the world, Canada is coming off a silver medal performance at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games. The nation also finished sixth at the 2018 world championships and fourth at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Canada will open its Tokyo campaign on Aug. 25 versus Great Britain. Sitting in Group B for round-robin play, the Canadians will also take on USA (Aug. 26) and New Zealand (Aug. 27). The semifinals and classification matches will be contested on Aug. 28 before the wheelchair rugby competition wraps up on Aug. 29 with the medal matches.
— NEWS Staff, submitted