Paralympian trading skis for bike

LAURA YOUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:17 PM ET

It’s almost — though not quite — as if the Paralympics were just, oh, so winter.

Sudury’s Jeff Dickson is ready to move on to the summer competitive sports scene, this time on his bike instead of the skis that yielded his Top-20 results at the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver.

“I was satisfied with my results. Everyone wants to go there with aspirations of being on the podium, winning a gold medal. Realistically, I wanted to be Top 10,” says Dickson, who won gold and two bronze at the 1992 Paralympics.

He was the top North American in Super G, where he came 16th. He was 19th in giant slalom.

It was his first Paralympics since 1998. Dickson qualified for Torino, but didn’t go due to knee issues and personal circumstances.

He learned he qualified for the 2010 Paralympics in January and wondered if it was even a good idea to go.

“At the same time, I’m glad I did because it was an experience of a lifetime being in the home country and having my family there, especially my son.”

Dickson, also a real estate appraiser and sales rep for Royal Lepage, believes the Paralympic atmosphere and excitement left a good impression with Christopher.

In June, Dickson will be honoured at the Sudbury Sports Celebrity Dinner and Awards through the House of Kin. Dickson and Olympians Tessa Bonhomme, Chris Del Bosco, Rebecca Johnston and Devon Kershaw will share the title of 2010 Amateur Elite Athlete of the Year.

In the meantime, as the sun shines over nearby Lake Ramsey, Dickson is optimistic after knee surgery three weeks ago. He had skied all winter with a bone spur scratching his femur and tibia.

“You deal with adversity. For me, the whole season was just grinning and bearing the pain all the way down the hill. There were days it was worse than others, but the pain was always there.”

With 30 per cent more flexion in his knee, he plans to race later this summer with the Sudbury Cycling Club. He began competing in cycling in 2006, having taken it up to rehabilitate his knee after previous surgeries. He loves riding with the club.

“They’ve been a great inspiration. It’s a great group of people, a good organization,” he adds.

Being competitive is natural for Dickson. Growing up, he raced Nancy Green and Inco Cup skiing and played hockey, ultimately to Tier II junior A. In a 1983 vehicle accident, he lost his left foot and his left arm was paralyzed. He continued in sport and still takes it as far as he can.

“It’s just something to focus on other than work. I’m a competitive person. I like to set a goal. If I have something in the back of my mind or written down that I’m going to do, then I make sure I take the time to obtain what I need to do to get there.”

He has won medals in cycling races at the nationals and says he qualified for the summer Paralympics in Beijing in 2008. He isn’t sure if he has aspirations to compete in 2012 at the Paralympics in London, England.

But, you know, with competitive people these things are never really ruled out. Explore a little further, raise a sceptical eyebrow and there you go. With Dickson, there’s a light laugh. “If I go to a national race and do well, then who knows? It’s not entirely out of the question.”

He looks forward to competing next winter, possibly skiing at the world championships in Italy in 2011.

The Paralympics ski circuit is such that skiers have been around for a while.

“It’s fun to see everyone again year after year. You develop friendships that continue and you catch up on everyone’s lives. It’s just something that I’m very grateful to have. I was in a pretty traumatic accident in ’83. To turn it around and travel around the world, I’ve just had a good time with it.”

And for anyone still missing that Olympic and Paralympic rush, Dickson suggests logging on to www.paralympicsport.tv.


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