Paralympics open in Rio with Canada West content

Paralympics open in Rio with Canada West content

Evan Daum, Canada West Communications 


  • Eight athletes, or coaches with ties to Canada West are representing Canada at the Rio Paralympic Games
  • Five of the eight will be part of Canada West teams this season after returning from Rio
  • The Paralympic opening ceremonies were yesterday and run until Sept. 18

NEW WESTMINSTER – Once again athletes and coaches with Canada West connections will be donning the maple leaf in Rio de Janeiro.

Just a few weeks after the Olympic Games concluded in Brazil, the Paralympic Games officially opened yesterday, and again Canada West athletes are slated to compete for gold.

Five athletes, or coaches with ties to Canada West are in Rio, competing for Paralympic success.

The Canadian women’s sitting volleyball team, which is led by former Brandon University Bobcat Nicole Ban. 

Ban, who is currently an assistant coach with MacEwan University’s women’s team, leads a Canadian team that is making its debut at the Paralympics after coming up just short of qualification in London four years ago. 

Also on the sitting volleyball coaching staff as an assistant is University of Alberta Pandas volleyball grad and current assistant coach Christine Smyth.

Joining Ban and Smyth on the women’s sitting volleyball team is Calgary’s Jennifer Oakes.

The 18-year-old is headed to the University of British Columbia Okanagan this season as a libero, joining head coach Steve Manuel’s powerful program.

Oakes lost the lower portion of her right leg in a boating accident at 17, but that hasn’t slowed her volleyball career, as she enjoys her first Paralympics ahead of her Canada West rookie season.

Along with Oakes, two other Canadian Paralympians will be competing at the Canada West level this season. 

University of Calgary cross country runner Stefan Daniel, who is set to compete in para-triathlon in the sport’s Paralympics debut, is a medal threat for Canada in the event after claiming the 2015 world championship. 

University of Lethbridge swimmer Zack McAllister is also headed to Rio before returning home to compete for the Pronghorns this season.

McAllister competed for the ‘Horns during the 2012-13 season, and will return to the program this fall after a three-year hiatus.

Rio marks McAllister's second Paralympic games after he competed in London in 2012.

Joining the aforementioned Oakes, Daniel and McAllister in Rio is former conference women’s basketball player Janet McLachlan.

McLachlan, who won two national titles with the University of Victoria Vikes during her university career, is set to appear in her third Paralympic Games for the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball squad. 

Also part of the women's wheelchair basketball team is Erica Gavel from the University of Saskatchewan, and former Huskie Katie Miyazaki, who is a coach with the team.

Miyazaki competed in the CIS Final 8 all five seasons during her Canada West playing days with SFU and Saskatchewan, was a two-time CIS Defensive Player of the Year, two-time CIS champion, one-time silver medalist, and three-time Canada West champion.

The Rio Paralympic Games run until Sunday, Sept. 18 with action available on CBC.



Click on each for more information

Nicole Ban – head coach, women’s sitting volleyball

Former Brandon University player, women’s volleyball assistant coach at MacEwan University


Christine Smyth - assistant coach, women's sitting volleyball

Former University of Alberta player, women's volleyball assistant coach at Alberta


Stefan Daniel – para-triathlon

University of Calgary cross country runner


Zack McAllister – para-swimming

University of Lethbridge swimming


Jennifer Oakes – women’s sitting volleyball

University of British Columbia Okanagan, women’s volleyball


Janet McLachlan – women’s wheelchair basketball

Former University of Victoria women’s basketball player


Erica Gavel - women's wheelchair basketball

Former University of Saskatchewan women's basketball player


Katie Miyazaki - coach, women's wheelchair basketball

Former University of Saskatchewan women's basketball player


NOTE: Saskatchewan's Al Bodnarchuk is also at the Rio Paralympics as part of Canada's medical staff.