On the eve of the 2018 Paralympic Games, Sports Gazette tracked down a former Paralympian to ask some questions about her life, the Paralympic games starting on 9th March in Pyeongchang, and being voted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame.
Just imagine being able to say that you’ve competed at an Olympic Games, knowing that this in itself is classed as an achievement.
Many athletes train for so long, and the mere fact you get to compete at the Olympics is enough for some.
However some don’t make it that far, just falling short at the last hurdle. But, for the small percentage of athletes that actually qualify for an Olympic games, very few go on to win multiple gold medals.
But for some, the rise to the top is even harder. Try winning several gold medals but doing so without the use of your left arm and both legs.
Lauren Woolstencroft is a Canadian alpine skier and was born missing her left arm below the elbow and both legs below the knees. She is also an eight-time gold medal winner at the Paralympic games.
At the Vancouver games in 2010, she secured five gold medals in skiing for slalom standing, giant slalom standing, downhill standing, super-G standing and super combined standing.
Woolstencroft said: “In ski racing, my greatest achievement was winning five gold medals in 2010 in Vancouver/Whistler.”
That resulted in her becoming the first Canadian to win five golds at the same Winter Paralympics, a record for any Canadian winter Olympian or Paralympian.
And with her fifth gold medal from the Vancouver games, she set the record for the most gold medals won by any Winter Paralympian at a single games.
“They all posed different challenges, but overall I think slalom was my most challenging event. It’s very quick and dynamic. Generally Super-G was my best event.”
With the Paralympics set to gain a huge audience throughout March, Woolstencroft acknowledged the fact that more people are becoming interested in Paralympic sports and the Paralympic games themselves.
On whether she’s seen an increase in interest, Woolstencroft said: “Yes! More and more all the time, which is great to see.
“I think people love to learn about the athlete’s stories and the sports are very exciting!”
As you can imagine, with such amazing achievements and a glittering career as an athlete, Woolstencroft’s feats didn’t go unnoticed, and, in 2015, she was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame.
“This was a huge honour! It’s amazing to be a part of Canadian Paralympic history and to join so many Paralympic greats in the Hall of Fame.”
As a former Olympian, Woolstencroft has enjoyed the Olympic Games without the notion of having to compete.
When asked about the Games in Pyeongchang so far, she said: “I loved watching the Winter Olympic Games!
“My favourite sport is of course alpine skiing, which was really exciting to watch, but I also love sliding sports, cross country skiing and freestyle skiing! Canada have done so well!”
But now the attention has turned to the Paralympic games and it’s athletes, and Woolstencroft believes that Canada are looking very solid in the run up to this year’s games.
“For the Paralympic Games, the Canadian team is very strong and there is huge medal potential in every sport!
“Some standouts are Mac Marcoux (with guide Jack Leitch), Alana Ramsey in para-alpine skiing, Brian McKeever in cross-country skiing, and of course the para-ice hockey team!
“I think Pyeongchang will put on a fantastic Paralympic Games full of exciting competition and amazing athlete stories.”
In a nod to such a great career, Woolstencroft’s life and achievements were also celebrated in the Toyota ad “Good Odds” that aired for the first time just after kick-off during Super Bowl LII in February 2018.
Featured photo credit: Paralympic.ca