Decorated local Paralympian invites Winnipeggers to Tokyo Games watch party

One of Manitoba’s most decorated athletes is inviting sports fans to come out and support Canada’s Paralympians at a watch party Thursday night.

Kirby Cote of Accessible Sport Connection Manitoba told 680 CJOB that the event, being hosted outdoors at The Garden on Portage Avenue, is a way to show support for the community and cheer on athletes representing their country a world away at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

“I think it’s awesome that athletes with a disability get the opportunity to represent themselves on the world stage,” said Cote, who has won more than a dozen gold medals as a swimmer at past Paralympics and world championships.

“I don’t think everybody that has a disability wants to be, necessarily, a paralympic athlete, but representation does matter, and it’s exciting to see people like yourself competing and succeeding.

“I think the highlight for me was probably just the opportunity to connect with other people with disabilities. As an adult now, I can see how sport really directed my life in a positive way.”

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Cote said Thursday’s event is a chance to watch Canada’s best — specifically in athletics — try to take home the gold, with a group of fellow supporters.

She said there has been some improvement since her days as a Paralympian with regards to sports becoming more accessible for all, but there’s still work to be done.

Read more: Canada now has 4 medals at the Tokyo Paralympics as 2 athletes score silver

“I think the conversation is there, it’s just the follow-through that needs to happen.

“Making things inclusive and accessible for everybody is not easy — it involves a lot of changes a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of energy, but it really is worth it,” she said.

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“Ultimately when things are inclusive and accessible to everyone, everyone benefits from it.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Canada was sitting in 22nd place on the Paralympic medals table for this year’s games, and fans can hopefully watch their fellow Canadians pick up some more hardware Thursday at the outdoor venue, starting at 8:30.

“Everybody hopes that the weather holds out and we can host it… we’ve got some burgers and drinks as prizes to give away, so if you show up, you might get some free food and beverages, and I think we’re going to do some trivia to keep telling people a little bit more about Paralympic sport in Canada and Manitoba as well.”

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