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Monday, April 22, 2013

Wheelchair curling keeps drive alive


Updated On: April 13, 2013
Collinda Joseph (left) and Team Ontario were 3-6 at the Canadian wheelchair curling championships. Photo: Dan Plouffe

By Josh Bell

For Collinda Joseph, the competitive edge has always been there. Whether it was as a spring-board  diver as a teenager, later when she looked to wheelchair basketball following a 1983 train crash in France during a high school senior French trip, or now, as a national-level wheelchair curler.

“I’ve played sports ever since I was a kid,” Joseph explains. “My dad always had sports on in the house, we watched them, grew up around them, so it was always something I wanted to do. I hate sitting around not doing anything, so it’s inbred.”

The latest stop of Joseph’s athletic journey was as the third for Team Ontario at the March 24-31 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships, hosted at the RA Centre.

“I was looking for something that was competitive that wasn’t so taxing on my body,” Joseph says of her switch from basketball to curling. “I decided to give it a try in 2006 and I was hooked.”

Although she doesn’t get as bashed up on the ice, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a big physical component to her new sport. Without the advantage of sweepers or a hack to push out of, wheelchair curlers must generate the full force of their shots with their arm, pushing the rock with a stick from a stationary position.

That’s meant lots of time weight training in the gym for Joseph, who feels she’s at last reached a good level to deliver solid hits in games. It’s allowed the Stittsville resident to play in several world-class tournaments  against teams from as far as Scotland and Korea.

PyeongChang 2018 on radar

Joseph was also one of 20 athletes considered for Canada’s 2014 Paralympic Games entry, although she’s since been dropped from the narrowed-down group.

“2018 Paralympics is my goal if I can hang in that long,” says the mother of two teenage daughters – one who studies at university and the other who plays basketball for the Ottawa Nationals in Ontario’s Junior Elite League.

“It’s difficult” to fit in all of life’s commitments, smiles Joseph, who works full-time as an analyst for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, spends 15 hours a week curling/training, and travels to Toronto two or three times a month for her daughter’s basketball. “I also have a husband apparently.”

Although 3-6 Team Ontario didn’t have a great performance at the national championships won by Quebec, Joseph enjoyed the experience of competing at home.

“It’s fun to not have to go too far, and have family come and watch, even though there’s more pressure of being the home city,” she notes. “It’s great for Ottawa to have it here. It raises the profile of the RA and wheelchair curling.”

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