Instead of focusing all of our attention on the veteran para-athletes, the Enables Me team has taken an interest in the newcomers. Priscilla Gagne is new to the Parapan Am Games. She won silver in Judo in the women’s under-52-kilogram event this week after defeating three of her four opponents at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario.
“This is a huge accomplishment for me,” she said. “This is definitely a highlight. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m just so grateful it was right here in Canada, and in Toronto of all places close to Sarnia where family could come. It means the world to me.”
The 29-year-old Gagne. who is visually impaired, and a former wrestler, was born in Quebec and raised in Sarnia, Ontario. She credits her move to Ottawa as having helped her perform better as a para-athlete.
“I was moving for work because Ottawa is a blind-friendly city. My dad was visiting me from Sarnia and he said ‘let’s just go look at the dojo,’ and knowing my dad, before I left, he was signing papers to pay for my membership.”
Gagne says she hopes to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, as long as she stays in the top six. I asked her if she enjoyed her first Parapan Am experience overall.
“All the training really paid off,” she said. “I’m disappointed I lost the one to Brazil but all in all, I’m really happy.”
Want to give judo a try? Check out these clubs: