Alberta athletes aim for medals in upcoming Parapan Am Games in Peru

The Pan American Games are well underway in Lima, Peru.

And, Canada’s doing pretty well in the medal standings.

On Monday, javelins and shot puts were flying through the air in Calgary’s Glenmore Athletic Park as athletes prepared to add to that medal count in the Parapan American Games later this month.

Much like the Paralympics, the multi-sport event for athletes with disabilities runs adjacent to its sister competition.

Calgary shotputter Harrison Orpe has set three personal bests while training to compete for the first time at the Games.

“It’s a huge honour to put that Canadian singlet on my chest,” Orpe said. 

He’ll be competing in F33 for shotput. The 30s represent the category for those with neurological impairment, and the range within that scale denotes how severe that impairment is, with the high 30s being less impairment.

In Orpe’s case, that means he competes seated, and holds a pole in his non-dominant hand to get enough torque to launch the shot put as far as he can.

He said he’s excited to be competing, but just because it’s his first time doesn’t mean he won’t be trying to go for the gold.

“I’m just looking forward to going there and representing Canada with pride and doing my very best, and the rest, you know, we’ll see what happens. But, you know, you want to go in to any meet that happens with the expectation of medalling and that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Event is a qualifier for Tokyo 2020

The event will be a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

F38 discus thrower Jennifer Brown won the gold medal at the last Para Pan Am Games in Toronto, and she has her eye on the Paralympics this time.

“I just want to go in and get a personal best,” she said. “Really, this is the kick-off in to Tokyo.”

Brown was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, and had to relearn how to walk.

She says being an athlete with MS can be a struggle, but that athletics have been a huge part of her journey.

“Knowing that I can always go to track and do the best that I can with whatever it might be on that day is really sort of satisfying, because you can still, it’s not an all or nothing thing,” she said.

Alister McQueen is a silver medallist in javelin from the Rio Paralympic Games. He’ll be representing Canada in Peru. (James Young/CBC)

“Some days I feel great, we have great practices, some days I show up and it’s more of a struggle. Either way I’m still able to do something so it works really well with the ebbs and flows of what MS brings.”

Thirty Albertans, out of a total of 151 Canadian athletes, will represent the country in 13 sports at the Games, which run from Aug. 23 to Sept. 1.