A Veteran And A Rookie Hi-Light Bc Wheelchair Sports Athletes At The Western Canada Summer Games

August 4, 2003 - They are both 21 years old, compete in wheelchair athletics and will both be in Selkirk, MB to compete in the 2003 Western Canada Summer Games. But though their ages are the same, they are ages apart in experience.

More than 330 athletes from across the province will be representing British Columbia at the WCSG in the communities of Selkirk, Stonewall, Beausejour and Gimli, Manitoba, Aug. 1 - 10, 2003.

Vancouver's Kiran Aujilay has been competing in the sport for five years. She got her start at the 1999 Western Canada Summer Games in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and now hopes to qualify for the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens next September.

"Currently I'm trying to achieve 'A' standards in my sport in the 100m, 200m and 400m to make the Paralympic Team for Athens 2004," says Aujilay. "In the 400m I'm only a couple of seconds off the standard but I still have to work on the 800m and the 1500m."

Her career hi-light was winning the silver medal in the 400m at the 2001 Canada Summer Games in London, ON. "Although I have had faster times since, it was probably the most focused race I have every competed in.

"While we were lined up at the start line, the only thing on my mind was pushing a strong, fast race. Even when the gun went off, the only thing running through my head was the actual image of an ideal race. I think the reason this is one of my best races is because not only was I physically strong, but mentally also."

Currently enrolled as a 4th Year English Major at the University of British Columbia, Aujilay has dreams of working in broadcast journalism, but she'll push those dreams aside as she trains to reach her goal of competing in Athens.

"It's been five years in the making," she explains of her journey to compete in the Paralympics.

Victoria's Gene Wey hasn't even been competing for five years, as it was only three years ago that he suffered a spinal cord injury in a mountain biking accident. Athens isn't in his future but the possibility of the 2008 Summer Games keeps him focussed.

"I like marathons and see myself competing in the marathon in Beijing," says Wey. "I'll have to compete in the 800m in Selkirk and my goal is a top five finish and a personal best."

It's his first year competing in the Wheelchair Race series and it was the speed of the sport that got him hooked.

"It's one of the closest sports to mountain bike racing," he adds after trying both wheelchair tennis and basketball.

Sixty-two coaches and managers and 18 mission staff - all volunteers - will join Team BC athletes in Manitoba. More than 330 BC athletes will compete in 18 sporting events at the Western Canada Summer Games. Team BC has placed first at every Western Canada Summer Games since their inception in 1971 - seven straight victories.

For more information contact

Lia Macfarlane,
Director of Sport,
BCWSA
604.737.3195
www.bcwheelchairsports.com

or for more information on Team BC and the Western Canada Summer Games log onto www.teambc.org.