Fourteen Ontario Athletes Named to Team Canada for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Three women and 11 men from Ontario will represent Canada in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis in Tokyo

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held their Closing Ceremony last Sunday to signal the end of the 17-day global affair, inevitably, for those in the parasport community, the countdown began for our signature event – the Paralympic Games!

Over the past month, the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) has been announcing the rosters for all 18 sports in which Canada will be competing in Tokyo. Now that all teams have been named, the Ontario Para Network would like to formally recognize and celebrate the 14 Ontario athletes who will be competing in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis.

Wheelchair Tennis

Rob Shaw | Credit: CPC

Rob Shaw (North Bay, ON) is the sole wheelchair tennis athlete representing Canada in Tokyo. Coming off his gold medal performance at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games, Rob is currently ranked 9th in the world in the Quad division. His results in Lima made him the first Canadian tennis player, stand-up or wheelchair, to win a medal in singles at a multi-sport Games. The five-time national quad singles champion will be making his Paralympic debut, along with 54 other Canadian first-time Paralympians. Rob currently resides in Kelowna, BC where he is working towards his PhD in Health & Exercise Sciences while balancing his training and competition schedule. The first round of the quad singles division begins on Saturday August 28.

Wheelchair Basketball

Ontario will be well-represented on the basketball court with seven athletes named to Team Canada between both the men’s and women’s sides.

Steeves and Lai | Credit: CPC

Tamara Steeves (Mississauga, ON) will be making her 3rd Paralympic Games appearance, having first competed with the squad at the London Games in 2012. The 31 year-old veteran will be joined by her Team Ontario teammates Melanie Hawtin (Oakville, ON) and Puisand Lai (Toronto, ON). Hawtin, best known for her speed on the court, has been working hard to return to form following shoulder surgery in 2019. Having missed the recent Parapan Am Games, Tokyo 2020 will mark her return to international competition and will be her 2nd Paralympic Games experience. Making her Paralympic debut is rising star Puisand Lai. Recently having celebrated her 21st birthday, Lai is the youngest athlete on the Canadian women’s team. She has been on the Senior Women’s National Team since 2018 and was part of the squad that captured gold at the 2019 Parapan Am Games in Lima, along with Steeves. The women begin their Paralympic campaign on Wednesday August 25 where they will face Great Britain in their first game of pool play.

On the men’s side, Tokyo 2020 will mark the Paralympic Games return of Patrick Anderson (Fergus, ON). The four-time Paralympic medalist, World Champion, and ‘Greatest of All Time’ took a brief hiatus after London 2012 to pursue personal and professional endeavours beyond sport. He returned to the fold in 2017 and has since been leading and mentoring the younger athletes on the team and looking to help Team Canada get back on the podium. Joining Anderson is long-time teammate Tyler Miller (Kitchener, ON). Miller was part of the gold medal winning team at the London 2012 Games. He will be looking to bring his veteran experience to Tokyo for his 3rd Games. Making their Paralympic debuts are Toronto athletes Lee Melymick and Blaise Mutware. Both got their start in wheelchair basketball with their local club, the Variety Village Rolling Rebels, before making the jump to the full-time training environment of the National Training Centre in Toronto. Additionally, both were part of 2019 Parapan Am Games team that earned silver in Lima, Peru, along with Anderson and Miller. The men will play their first game of the Paralympic tournament on Wednesday August 25 against Spain.

Team Canada – 2019 Parapan Am Games | Credit: Wheelchair Basketball Canada

Wheelchair Rugby

Mike Whitehead | Credit: CPC

Half of the 12-person Canadian wheelchair rugby Paralympic roster hails from the province of Ontario. Patrice Dagenais (Embrun, ON) will be leading the team as co-captain alongside fellow veteran player Trevor Hirschfield (Parksville, BC). Dagenais will be making his 3rd Games appearance and is among the nine athletes who will be returning from the Rio 2016 squad. He will be joined by long-time National Team member and five-time Paralympian Mike Whitehead (Windsor, ON). Whitehead, 45, was recently elected to the CPC’s Athletes’ Council, and has embraced his role as mentor with the younger athletes on the team over the past few years. He continues to share his knowledge and experiences both on and off the court, and is a well-respected ambassador for the sport of wheelchair rugby. Also from the Rio 2016 team are Travis Murao (Toronto, ON), and Cody Caldwell (Peterborough, ON). Murao is another long-standing member of he National Team Program, having made his Paralympic debut in Beijing in 2008. This will be Caldwell’s 2nd Paralympic appearance.

Furtado-Rodrigues and Smith | Credit: Kevin Bogetti-Smith

Rounding out the squad are Eric Furtado-Rodrigues (Mississauga, ON) and Shayne Smith (Toronto, ON), two of the three first-time Paralympians on the team. Both athletes joined the National Team Program in 2017 and have since represented Canada at other international events like the 2019 Parapan Am Games and 2018 World Championships, but this will be their first time donning the red and white on the world’s biggest stage. Smith, 33,  comes from a long career in parasport, having played a variety of sports from a young age. He grew up primarily playing wheelchair basketball and went on to represent Canada at the U23 World Championships before eventually transitioning to wheelchair rugby at the age of 25. Furtado-Rodrigues, on the other hand, grew up playing able-bodied sports before his accident in 2009. It was during his recovery that he discovered wheelchair rugby, which eventually led to aspirations of representing Canada at the international level.

In addition to the six Ontario athletes on the roster, wheelchair rugby legend and five-time Paralympian Dave Willsie (Dorchester, ON) will be making his Paralympic coaching debut as the Assistant Coach with Team Canada. Currently ranked 5th in the world, Canada is looking to improve on its 4th place finish in Rio. Their opening game in Tokyo is scheduled for Wednesday August 25 against Great Britain.

Finally, ONPARA would also like to give special mention to Ontario athletes and coaches heading to Tokyo and competing outside of the sports we govern. Ottawa Stingers wheelchair rugby athlete Brianna Hennessy (Ottawa, ON) qualified for the Paralympic Games in para-canoe less than two years after taking up the sport. She will be competing in the VL2 classification. Cruisers Sports athlete Jessica Lewis, a T53 wheelchair racer, will be heading to her 3rd Paralympic Games and representing her home country of Bermuda. She will be coached by Curtis Thom (Mississauga, ON), himself a three-time Paralympian and Paralympic bronze medalist. Also from Cruisers Sports, coaches Ken Hall and Lisa Myers (Brampton, ON) will be heading to Tokyo as part of the Athletics Canada coaching staff.

ONPARA is proud of all its Paralympic athletes and wishes them and their respective teams the best of luck in Tokyo!

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games officially begin on Tuesday August 24. Comprehensive coverage will be provided by the Canadian Paralympic Committee at Live coverage will be available through the Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium, including broadcast partners CBC/Radio-Canada, AMI, and Sportsnet, and digital partners Twitter, Facebook, and MXZN. The complete broadcast schedule will be announced closer to the start of the Games.


About the Ontario Para Network

Formerly known as the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association, our mission at the Ontario Para Network (ONPARA) is to grow opportunities for participation in adaptive sports across Ontario. As the governing body for wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis in the province, we strive to offer opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in recreational, competitive, and high performance programs. We lead, develop, support and advocate for athletes, coaches and volunteers to build strong and inclusive sport communities. We also deliver extensive outreach and education programs targeting schools as well as individuals and clinicians at rehabilitation hospitals and the broader health care sector.