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Views expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the publisher of wheelchaircurling.com

 

Congratulations to Team Canada  02/20/2008

I would like to take a moment and congratulate the 2008 TEAM CANADA on their performance at this years World Championships. I know each player personally and know they made a 100% effort as they forged towards the finish. I would also like to tip my hat off to the coaching and support staff which attended the 2008 World Championships. The dedication and passion that these staff members have towards there support of the players is second to none. And I am sure if they could be out on the ice with the players they would have been. Way to go; well done. I would also like to tip my hat off to the CCA and moreover Gerry Peckham. It is only with the CCA's vision and hard work that the athletes and staff can be in pursuit of the dreams to which they hold. Their never ending efforts to support and secure funding for the development of our sport have surpassed all expectations and I am sure will continue to do so in the future.

2008 is only a stepping stone towards 2009 and beyond. Regardless of who plays for Canada I am sure Canada as a whole will top the podium in our defence of the Paralympics Gold Medal in 2010.

Chris Daw
Chris was skip of Team Canada from the program's inception until this season, and now works for the CCA as development co-ordinator for Discover Curling

The Passing of Rusty Drew  02/11/2008

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Rusty Drew. He certainly was a pioneer in support of wheelchair curling. He was very helpful when I was working to establish wheelchair curling here in Nova Scotia. I want to ensure that this is noted. For many of us who get great enjoyment from the game it is important to note that the passing of Rusty Drew leaves a void in the short history of our sport. Our deepest sympathies to his many family and friends from our program in Nova Scotia.

Laughlin Rutt

Team USA Wisconsin give-it-a-go camp  01/07/2008

I just had the pleasure of participating in a wheelchair curling clinic last Friday put on by the USA Paralympic curling team. A big thank you goes out to coach Brown and the other members on the USA Curling Team for introducing me/us to a sport that we are capable of participating in. It brings a whole new level to the word handicap. I and others would prefer to think of ourselves as handicap-able and these competitors emphasize the point with honor. Thank you and please take along our prayers for success in your competition in Sweden

Jim Hamre

Old Boys Network Unacceptable 10/15/2007

I am a legitimate third year wheelchair curler with 48 years of able bodied curling experience, having attained moderate success during those years. I currently curl with the Capital Wheelchair Curling Club in Ottawa.

I was absolutely astonished and upset when hearing that Jim Armstrong had been added to the TEAM CANADA pool of curlers. I will never question his previous successes and experience. I will however question his legitimacy as a wheelchair curler and the method in which he was chosen as a member of the TEAM CANADA pool of curlers.

Firstly the WCF rules for wheelchair curling are very clear with absolutely no ambiguity. As a matter of fact they were recently changed to guard against this actual type of situation. It matters not what a Canadian doctor thinks about the WCF rule and how it is worded and whether they think it is ambiguous. It is a WCF rule and very clear, at least to most people. We also must never lose sight of the fact that Jim Armstrong is also a doctor (dentist). Plain and simple, if you do not use a wheelchair for daily mobility, then you are not eligible. I ask the CCA to sit back and take a real honest look at this and please do not bring embarrassment and shame to the legitimate wheelchair curlers who are part of the CCA by continuing to pursue Jim Armstrong’s eligibility at the International level.

The method that was used, if there actually was one,  to chose him as a member of the TEAM CANADA pool of curlers is a slap in the face to all other legitimate wheelchair curlers. The members of the TEAM CANADA pool were selected after attending various tryout camps held in different Canadian locations or winning the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship held in Ottawa in April 2007. You see they had to earn their way into that pool. Why did Jim Armstrong not have to attend a “tryout” camp and be selected on his skill level as a wheelchair curler like everyone else? I hear there is some feeble whimpering out there in an effort to wiggle out of this predicament by saying Jim Armstrong may be used as a coach or adviser to the TEAM CANADA legitimate wheelchair curlers. I do not know Jim Armstrong’s coaching back ground. I do know that at the National level a team can not attend unless they have a level II coach. I would suspect that at the International level the requirement/qualification is at least that high. You do not attain these levels overnight, it takes time. If Jim Armstrong is not already a qualified coach will the “old boys network” kick in again to “fast track” him to being a qualified coach? Please say no!!!

The method in which Jim Armstrong was selected to the TEAM CANADA pool of legitimate wheelchair curlers has given the legitimate wheelchair curling community a black eye. This is not what is needed in this very young sport. There are many of us who are trying to hone our skills to make the TEAM CANADA pool of curlers and hopefully the actual team only to be saddened and discouraged by this type of thing. What is the incentive? We never curled in two Briers and one Canadian Mixed championship with the Manager of High Performance for the CCA..... do we stand a chance.....I suspect not. Those of us who legitimately use wheelchairs for daily mobility have enough barriers to overcome......we do not need yet another due to an error in judgement and the flagrant use of the “old boys network”.

Bruce Cameron (ON)

Related items:


Canada stretching eligibility for WCF competition? 10/6/2007
Good news for a great guy 
10/9/2007
CCA surprised at national squad flap
  10/10/2007
The wheelchair controversy . . . 10/12/2007
"No rule ambiguity," says WCF 
10/13/2007
Wheelchair curling "a dumping ground"? 10/14/2007
WCF declares Canadian curler ineligible  10/19/2007

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Wheelchair curling "a dumping ground for those who can no longer make it in the able-bodied leagues"?  10/14/2007

I have just been made aware that the Canadian Curling Association is fast-tracking an able-bodied curler into the wheelchair curling national team program.  This is a very big disappointment and I personally think, a slap in the face to wheelchair curlers in Canada.   The wheelchair curling program in Canada is growing in leaps and bounds, unlike what the newspaper article from Alberta states, and the opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in this great sport are expanding.  By opening the doors to people who do not use wheelchairs on a daily and regular basis will put the sport at risk.  Wheelchair curling started in Canada in 2001 which means the sport is very new to the disability community in Canada, but even still, Canada has managed to perform well internationally in the sport.  With it's growing popularity and the performances of Canada's national teams, more and more people who use wheelchairs are beginning to take up the sport and the introduction of an able-bodied curler into the national team program is a major hurdle put in the way of people with disabilities by the CCA.  

Sport Canada has developed a detailed policy of supporting people with disabilities in sport and the long-term athlete development program which supports athletes with disabilities in Canada.  Placing an individual without a disability that doesn't require the use of a wheelchair on a daily basis in the pool of athletes for the national "wheelchair" curling team does not support the policy of long-term athlete development.  A person with bad knees is not a person who uses a wheelchair full time.  In fact, Canada has a growing field of stick curlers who are made up of people who have bad knees, bad backs and other ailments that prevent them from continuing to curl in the traditional way. I would suggest that Mr. Armstrong look at this opportunity as a way to get back to the sport he so dearly loves, rather than taking away an opportunity for a person who uses a wheelchair to take part on the national team.  I am certain that Mr. Armstrong's ability as a curler are excellent, however, qualifying him as a curler with a significant mobility disability is in question.  The fact that the CCA is pursuing the possibility of Mr. Armstrong's participation on the national team will leave many disabled curlers feeling like the sport will become one of a dumping ground for those who can no longer make it in the able-bodied leagues.  At this point, there is no classification system that exists for people who do not use a wheelchair full time and until that time, Mr. Armstrong, or any other player that does not use a wheelchair full time should not be considered as a national team player.

I am a wheelchair curler and would very much like to play on the national team.  I have not been curling long, but have been working very hard to improve my skills and get to a point where I might be considered in the pool of national team players.  The reason for my writing this letter now is to voice my concern about the precedent that is being set by including Mr. Armstrong in the pool of talented curlers that exist in Canada.  This course of action will open the doors for other people to take spots away from other people who actually use wheelchairs on a daily basis.  Those of us who use wheelchairs do not have the luxury of moving from one curling rink to the next and moving from one team to the next as able-bodied curlers can.  Our options are limited and we do not appreciate it when our opportunities are removed from us by people who are being short sighted and looking for the win and not the development of athletes.

I have the following questions:

Will the CCA continue to challenge or change the rules of wheelchair curling, going for a win at all costs?

What is stopping the CCA from continuing to search out more and more able bodied curlers with bad knees to curl from wheelchairs?

Has the CCA forgotten that an all disabled wheelchair team won the gold medal at the 2006 Paralympics?

While Mr. Armstrong is excited about the possibility of being able to curl again, I wonder if he has thought this through entirely.  Does he see himself as being in the same boat as people with disabilities who use wheelchairs on a regular basis?  I certainly hope not.  While there is no denying Mr. Armstrong's issues with chronic pain and his limitations in his ability to walk his dogs or go for a stroll in the park - the fact of the matter is Mr. Armstrong is not a person with a permanent disability that requires him to use a wheelchair on a fulltime basis.  Every player on the national team is a person who uses a wheelchair on a fulltime basis and does not have the option of getting up and walking away at the end of draw!  These athletes have also worked very hard to get to where they are.  I would wager that if you asked each of those athletes and any other athlete that is participating in this sport, they would say that Mr. Armstrong does not qualify as a wheelchair curler.  Again, there is no denying Mr. Armstrong's ability and experience when it comes to curling - but his contribution to the sport may be best used as a coach or advisor.   Unfortunately, Mr. Armstrong is in a position to be front and centre regarding this situation.  But this discussion needs to occur.  Opening the door to his participation on the national team will be precedent setting and will result in further elimination of opportunities to people with disabilities in the sport of wheelchair curling.

I would encourage the CCA to consult with wheelchair curlers about this situation, and not make this kind of decision independent of the athletes they are supposed to represent.

Most wheelchair curlers, and people without disabilities, that I have spoken to about this situation think it will jeopardize people's chances to participate in this sport and see it as another barrier to inclusion for individuals with disabilities.

Collinda Joseph (ON)

Related items:

Canada stretching eligibility for WCF competition? 10/6/2007
Good news for a great guy  10/9/2007
CCA surprised at national squad flap
  10/10/2007
The wheelchair controversy . . . 10/12/2007
"No rule ambiguity," says WCF 
10/13/2007
Old Boys Network Unacceptable 10/15/2007
WCF declares Canadian curler ineligible  10/19/2007

Add your comments. Email eric@wheelchaircurling.com and please indicate whether they are for publication.

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