Vernon’s Josh Dueck (front, left) and Kelowna’s Garett Hickling (front, second from left) were among the Class of 2019 enshrined into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Vancouver. (Contributed)

Kelowna Paralympian named to Canadian Hall of Fame

Garett Hickling was enshrined last weekend in Vancouver

A Kelowna athlete has been added to the Canadian Paralympian Hall of Fame.

Garett Hickling, a legendary wheelchair rugby player, was named to the Class of 2019 last weekend in Vancouver. For 20 years, Hickling lead the Canadian national team including a gold medal finish at the world championships in 2002.

“You do something you love for so many years, and to be recognized like this, it’s just amazing,” Hickling said.

Hickling was a pioneer in the sport as wheelchair rugby’s worldwide popularity grew during the Paralympic Games which started in 1996.

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A hiking accident at age 16 left Hickling a quadriplegic, and after trying out several wheelchair sports, he found rugby five years after his accident and said that he hasn’t look back since.

His induction into the Canadian Paralympian Hall of Fame is yet another milestone for the hard-hitting Paralympian.

In 2015, Hickling was the first wheelchair rugby player to be inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame, was named to the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, is a member of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association Hall of Fame and was etched into the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation Hall of Fame in 2018.

The five-time Paralympian has three silver Paralympic Games medals (1996, 2004, 2012) and a bronze medal (2008).

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Hickling was inducted into the Hall of Fame along side Vernon’s Josh Dueck.

Dueck won silver in para alpine skiing in the slalom at the 2010 Paralympics at the Vancouver-Whistler Games, was the first sit-skier to successfully complete a back flip in 2012, which earned him a seat beside noted TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on her show, then added gold and silver at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

Also inducted over the weekend were athletes Colette Bourgonje of Porcupine Plain, Sask. (para nordic skiing, wheelchair racing), Viviane Forest of Edmonton (para alpine skiing and goalball) and Joey Johnson of Lorette, Man. (wheelchair basketball), as well as coach Joe Rea of Prince George (wheelchair curling) and builder Kathy Newman of Vancouver (wheelchair sports).

“Congratulations to the new members of the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame,” Canadian Paralympic Committee president Marc-André Fabien said.

The Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates athletes, coaches and builders who have made a significant impact on the growth and development of the Paralympic Movement in Canada.

A new class of inductees is honoured every two years.

– With files from the Vernon Morning Star.

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