In case you missed it, the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang just wrapped up. The Paralympics started in 1960 and typically follow right after the Olympics. Celebrates diversity in people with impairments to “To enable Para athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world.”
Since the movement began, it has grown to become the leading body toward opening up sport to millions of people around the world that have unique capabilities and empower their athletes to push the limits of what defines human performance.
The Summer Paralympic Games have been represented by LGBTQ+ athletes at the 2012 and 2016 Games, with increasing representation of LGBTQ+ athletes within para-sport and breaking down even more barriers than their Olympic colleagues.
Through the Paralympic movement, these athletes are advancing the cause for Para-sport and redefining the limits of human performance but also showing the world that the diversity of who you love or how you live your life have no impact on what you are capable of.
Just like the 2018 Winter Olympic Games made history with increased gay and lesbian representation, the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games have as well. If you haven’t heard of Cindy Ouelett, then you have now. The Paralympic Superstar has quite the resume, making her debut at the 2008 Paralympics in wheelchair basketball. She has since competed at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympic Games. Being a natural athlete, Cindy is always looking for a challenge. She took up the sport of Para-Nordic Skiing and has since become one of the select few Paralympians to compete at both the Summer and Winter Games.
Making her winter debut in Pyeongchang she has also become the first openly LGBTQ+ athlete to compete at the Paralympic Winter Games. She competed in the 1.1km, 5km and 12km Para-Nordic Skiing events where she placed 17th, 17th and 18th respectably. However that won’t be the last you see of Cindy, while a Paralympic medal has so far eluded her, Cindy is already planning to compete at the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. With 4 years to train, she will be a force to be reckoned with. Being the first LGBTQ+ Winter Paralympian, Cindy has opened the door and through her leadership we hope to see even more representation of LGBTQ+ Para-athletes.
By Dirk Smith