TORONTO – The Canadian Paralympic Committee is pleased to announce that four-time Paralympic swimmer Elisabeth Walker-Young (North Vancouver, B.C.) has been named Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
Walker-Young competed at four Paralympic Games in swimming, winning six medals (three gold, one silver and two bronze). She was Team Canada’s Assistant Chef de Mission at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“Elisabeth’s contribution to the London Paralympic Games as Assistant Chef de Mission was spectacular and I couldn’t be happier to have her leading the largest Parapan Am Canadian Team ever in her native Ontario,” said Gaétan Tardif, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
“There is great value in Canada hosting international events and I know Elisabeth will help Team Canada’s athletes and coaches make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of competing at a home Games. Just being around Elisabeth is motivating and she has a natural rapport-building ability that I know the team will appreciate and benefit greatly from.”
“Elisabeth is now a respected sports administrator and is uniquely suited to this leadership role,” added Tardif. “She brings an important athlete perspective to her work.”
“I’m honored and thrilled to be named the Chef de Mission for the Canadian 2015 Parapan Am Team,” said Elisabeth Walker-Young. “This is the culmination of years of focus and hard work as an athlete, of contributions as a volunteer and experiences working in the sport sector. It is these experiences, memories and skills from my participation in sport and the values I learned along the way that I hope to share with the athletes and coaches of Team Canada, to help them reach their goals.”
The Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games run August 7 to 15, 2015 and will feature 1,608 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports. Team Canada is expected to send a team of approximately 200 athletes and has set a goal of finishing in the top three nations in total medal count.
Now working for Curl BC as the Educational Programs Manager, Walker-Young is a passionate and successful advocate for the importance of active, healthy living and sport opportunities for all. She managed international projects and operations for the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), is a compelling motivator and keynote speaker, serves on the Paralympic Development Committee and Classification Taskforce for the CPC and also teaches indoor cycling classes.
Originally from Toronto, Walker-Young took up swimming with the Variety Village Flames. Fluently bilingual, she attended École élémentaire Gabrielle-Roy, Jarvis Collegiate Institute, Thornhill Secondary School and Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in the elite athlete program.
“I first found out about the Paralympic movement when I lived in Toronto,” said Walker-Young. “I’m excited to be leading the Canadian Team on home soil in what promises to be our best Parapan Am Games yet. These Games will be integral preparation and provide a marker for our athletes with their eyes set on Rio 2016. It will also serve as the ever-so-important first international multi-sport competitive opportunity for some athletes.”
The Chef de Mission is the official spokesperson for the Canadian Team and will be part of the leadership team supporting the Canadian Parapan Am Team. Responsibilities include participation in site visits, regular conference calls and mission staff meetings, national events, selection trials, training events, the Chef de Mission Seminar, Mission Orientation Seminar and the Games themselves. Walker-Young will also promote Canada’s elite parasport summer athletes and raise awareness of Paralympic-level sport and the Canadian Team.
As a member of the Canadian Paralympic Swim Team for 13 years, Walker-Young competed at the 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney, and 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, winning three gold, one silver and two bronze medals overall. Throughout her swimming career, she broke numerous Canadian and world records and was team captain for more than half of her career.