Mortimer, Wagner ready to take on the world

Two area athletes have been named to Team Canada for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Swimmer Summer Mortimer and wheelchair basketball player Brandon Wagner along with 143 other competitors athletes from across Canada will be joined by 12 athlete support personnel (cycling pilots, running guides, boccia sport assistants and a rowing coxswain), and 134 officials (coaches, managers, support staff, and mission staff) in 15 sports.

Summer Mortimer heads to the London 2012 Paralympic Games with plenty of confidence. She is the world record holder in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke. Four of those records were established in a brilliant 2010 season which included four gold medals at the IPC World Championships.

In addition, at the Paralympic swim trials this past spring, Mortimer beat her world mark in the 50 freestyle and neared her standard in the 100 freestyle as well.

Mortimer’s athletic skills were clearly evident when she pursued a career in para-swimming after a trampoline accident three years ago left her with limited range of motion in her feet. Mortimer was a competitive trampoline jumper and was pursuing a goal to compete at the national championships when the mishap occurred.

She was also a competitive swimmer before her accident and the transition to para-swimming certainly helped Mortimer deal with a difficult phase in her life. After a rehabilitation period, she established herself among the top para-swimmers on the planet.

Mortimer is now coached by Reg Chappell at Duck Swimming in Aurora, Ont., after being guided by her father, Craig Mortimer, at the same club.

Mortimer is featured in the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Super Athletes marketing campaign and has been nicknamed “The Storm.”

Wagner was introduced to wheelchair basketball in 1995 in his hometown. He is a competitive person who enjoys the game’s physicality and the challenge of matching up against bigger, stronger players. Given the opportunity, Wagner thrives on the defensive mistakes of his opponents.

His progress in the sport has been rapid. He made the U23 junior national team in 2005. He was accepted to play at the University of Illinois where his team won the collegiate championships in 2008. In 2009, Wagner was named Student-Athlete of the Year at Illinois and made Canada’s senior national wheelchair basketball team for the first time.

This will be his first Paralympic Games. He was part of the Canadian team that won silver at the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and bronze in 2011 at Guadalajara, Mexico.

Providing some of the support for the Canadian contingent are: Port Dover’s Andrea Stephen, lead therapist for Athletics; St. Catharines Josh Droppert, physiotherapist for Rowing; and Wheelchair Rugby’s Ryan Doyle, physiotherapist.

Building on the great success of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games (where Canada placed third in both the gold medal count and overall medal count), Canada is looking to continue its winning ways in London. The Canadian Paralympic Team’s performance goal for London is to finish among the top eight nations, based on gold medal count.