Three-time Paralympic medallist Josh Dueck will be heading up Canada’s Paralympic team as the chef de mission for Beijing 2022.
“This is definitely a crowning moment,” said Dueck, who now lives in Vernon with his family.
“At first I was stunned, and I just sat there and did my best to take it in. A few days later, I’m just beyond excited.”
Six years after dislocating his back in a ski accident, Dueck scored a silver medal in his Paralympic debut at the 2010 games on Canadian home turf.
Read more: Dueck wins Paralympic silver in downhill sit-ski
Then, in Sochi, he was back on the podium after winning gold, and then another silver medal.
That earned him a special spot during the closing ceremony.
“Being named by the team as a whole to be the flagbearer was massive. That was for sure the milestone up to this point,” Dueck said.
“Now having this role, I think is definitely going to be the new feather in the cap.”
Read more: Josh Dueck is Canada’s flag-bearer for Paralympics closing ceremony
The retired para-alpine skier said he’ll work to motivate athletes and unify Team Canada.
“I’m raw, I’m gritty. I do my best to be fearlessly authentic in any capacity that I serve. I’ve lived the experience as an athlete,” Dueck said.
Canadian Paralympic Committee CEO Karen Mitchell said Dueck stands out because of his experience and passion for sport.
“Josh has an infectious energy,” she said.
“His ability to provide mentorship to the team just made him a hands-down top choice.”
Read more: Vernon's Josh Dueck retires from ski racing
O’Neill said the COVID-19 pandemic will present a real challenge over the coming months, particularly with regards to planning, training, and qualifying athletes, but she believes Dueck will be up to the task.
“I can’t think of a more self-aware individual, an individual who is keenly sensitive to what’s going on in the community and in the community beyond sport,” O’Neill said.
“I can’t think of a person better suited to take us into and into the opening stadium for Beijing 2022,” she addded.
Read more: Sky is the limit for Paralympic skier who does backflip on sit ski
Dueck acknowledged that preparations during a pandemic will be challenge, especially as face-to-face communication will be limited for the time being.
“This is going to be a very weird and wild and bumpy road over the next 15 months,” he said. “And I feel like a big part of my life has prepared me to be here.”
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