Calgary Paralympic athletes arrive home to a hero's welcome
Two local athletes brought home medals from the Rio games
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Air Canada flight 117 was carrying some precious cargo.
When the plane touched down Wednesday morning, it was carrying some of the Calgary athletes and coaches that represented Canada at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, along with two of Canada’s 29 total medals from the games.
The medals were hardly the focus, however, as the athletes were swarmed by their friends and families upon arriving at Calgary International Airport.
Jennifer Brown, who represented Canada in discus, was overcome with emotion when greeted by her brother. She broke into tears when opening up a small blue greeting card from her family, and reflected on the Olympic experience.
“Truly one of the best sporting experiences and life experiences I’ve ever had,” she said.
Stefan Daniel, who brought home a silver medal in triathlon, had his buried in the bottom of his travel bag. They made them check their bags yesterday, he reasoned. When he finally dug the medal out, he was sandwiched by his grandparents.
“We couldn’t be more proud,” said his grandmother.
The athletes had a short layover in Toronto, before flying the final leg to YYC International. For some of them, like javelin silver medalist Alister McQueen, it had almost been a month away from home.
His parents waited anxiously for his arrival, and talked about seeing him win the silver.
“It was pretty surreal at the time. We weren’t expecting it – hoping obviously – but not expecting it,” said his mother Cheryl.
Jennifer Oakes (sitting volleyball) and Chad Jassman (wheelchair basketball) seemed relieved to be home after nearly 15 hours of total flight time. Oakes’ team finished in seventh place, while the highly touted wheelchair basketball team ended with a disappointing 11th place finish.
Canada finished 13th in the medal count at the games, with eight gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze. That number puts them just two short of their total from the London games.