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Spallumcheen wheelchair curler bears flag and seeks fourth Paralympics medal

Ina Forrest, a two-time gold- and bronze-medal winner for Canada, begins play Friday, March 4, at the 2022 Games
Spallumcheen wheelchair curler Ina Forrest takes aim at a fourth Paralympics medal starting Friday, March 4, in Beijing. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

It’s a streak she’d love to continue.

Spallumcheen wheelchair curler Ina Forrest has reached the podium for Canada in all three of her previous Paralympic Games, including gold in Sochi, Russia in 2014 and bronze four years ago in PyeyongChang, South Korea.

Appearance No. 4 begins Friday, March 4, in Beijing when Forrest and her Canadian teammates Mark Ideson, Dennis Thiessen, Jon Thurston and Collinda Joseph open up the 2022 Paralympic Games wheelchair curling competition against the host Chinese (10:30 p.m. Pacific time).

“The Paralympics are the goal you set and strive for during the quadrennial,” said Forrest prior to a training session at her home Vernon Curling Club with coach Sharon Morrison of Vernon before departing for the Games. “Being at the Paralympics means being part of the whole Team Canada, meeting other Canadian athletes and cheering them on. Every experience is different, but each is utterly amazing.”

Forrest is one of the world’s most decorated wheelchair curlers. She has competed at 12 straight world championships (starting in 2007, three years after picking up the sport), winning three gold and one silver medal. Forrest was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in February 2016.

A veteran of pressure-filled competitions, Forrest still loves representing her country. On Wednesday, March 2, the Canadian Paralympic Committee announced Forrest and sledge hockey player Greg Westlake would be Canada’s flag bearers for the Games’ opening ceremonies.

“I will always remember when I received my first Team Canada jacket and the pride I felt to be representing Canada,” said Forrest. “Wearing the maple leaf and hearing the Canadian national anthem in competition is so much more emotionally charged than I ever anticipated. It is a swelling in your chest that threatens to bring on tears.”

She began curling in 2004 after an avid local wheelchair curler approached her while shopping and suggested she give it a try. Two weeks later she was hooked. As a member of the British Columbia wheelchair curling team, she won silver at the 2004 and 2005 Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships.

In 2006, she was named to the national team. Canada finished fourth at both the 2007 and 2008 World Wheelchair Curling Championships before taking the gold in 2009. A year later, Forrest made her Paralympic debut for Canada in her home province at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, winning gold alongside Vernon teammate Sonja Gaudet.

A former competitive curler, Morrison had Forrest join her ladies team at the Vernon club, and she became Forrest’s coach in 2004. Having coached curlers of all ages since the 1980s, Morrison called the multiple medalist “one of the best people she’s ever been involved with in the game.”

“She’s coachable, a wonderful person, and she listens to my suggestions and puts them into play,” said Morrison. “She understands how important all aspects of the game are, and not just the technical aspects. “She epitomizes when the going get tough, the tough get going.”

• Lumby’s Logan Leach is making his Paralympics debut in Alpine Skiing. The visually impaired 19-year-old is slated to take part in several events. The first event on the schedule is the downhill on Friday, March 4 (6 p.m. Pacific time).

This story was updated at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, March 2, with the announcement of Forrest being named one of two flag bearers for Canada

READ MORE: Spallumcheen’s golden Paralympian Beijing bound in wheelchair curling

READ MORE: Lumby’s Leach skis way to Paralympics

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Spallumcheen wheelchair curler Ina Forrest takes aim at a fourth Paralympics medal starting Friday, March 4, in Beijing. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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