The Athlete of the Month is our way of acknowledging a BC-located athlete who has displayed outstanding performances in their sport and deserves recognition. Athletes chosen monthly to be the face of Canadian Sport Institute Pacific will receive a celebration feature on our website and a gift from 2XU.
Each athlete selected as Athlete of the Month receives a small token of congratulation sponsored by 2XU. CSI Pacific would like to thank 2XU for their generosity and support of the program.
November 28, 1976
Place of Birth:
West Covina, California
Marc Antoine Ducharme, Simon Cass, Sabrina Pettinicchi, Joe Higgins
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi
- ParaPan Am – 1st
- 2019 Cologne, Germany Tournament – 1st
- 2019 Cluse, France Tournament – 1st
- 2018 World Championships – 5th
Reason for nomination:
Tara competed as a professional mountain biker for 15 years and, in 2018, she earned a nomination in to 2018 BMX Hall of Fame. During her decorated career, she won an X Games Gold, 2 Silvers and a Bronze. In 2007, she suffered a spinal cord injury that ended her mountain biking career, and leaving her paraplegic. An American-born athlete, Tara moved to Canada in 2010 where some amazing friends purchased an adaptive mountain bike to get her back onto the mountains. She has gone on to own her own company selling adaptive mountain bikes: Tara Llanes Industries. Tara began playing tennis, and in 2014 registered with CSI Pacific for the first time. Her friend and fellow CSI Pacific registered athlete, Amanda Yan, pushed her to try wheelchair basketball – she was also encouraged by her coach Richard Peter as it was great cross-training for tennis. She began playing in 2016 locally with BC Royals / BC Breakers and, in two years, made her way into the national program where she competed in the 2018 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Germany. 2019 was a very successful year, as the team won 1st place at 3 international competitions, including at the ParaPan Am Games in Lima.
What is it about sports that keeps you coming back for more?
All of it. I love the grind, the competition, comradery, my teammates, the travel, and the sheer grit you need to compete. There are a lot of days when I wake up at 5:00am and my body is so sore I’ve got to do a lift, a two-hour team practice, and another hour of chairskills. Those are the days that give me such a feeling of satisfaction.
After your MTB injury, was there ever a second you thought you’d never play sports again?
Oh, 100% there was. I knew when I was 11 years old that I wanted to race bikes and turned professional when I was 18. It was my dream profession, so when I broke my back and that was no longer an option I was lost. It had been my identity for 13 years and I didn’t know what to do or who I was. I had lost all desire to compete even recreationally if it wasn’t mountain biking. I broke my back in 2007 and it took me a solid seven years of scraping the bottom to find sport again. For whatever reason tennis was the sport that did it. It came along at the exactly the right time.
Do you have a preference on Wheelchair Tennis or Basketball at this point in your career?
Basketball. I love being part of a team and having 11 other players to lean on. With all the travel it just makes it more fun having a crew to travel with. I loved tennis, but I think I struggled with it being an individual sport and always travelling on my own. Plus, tennis is an extremely expensive sport and when you’re trying to climb the ranks to qualify for certain events you have to get to around 15 tournaments a year. It adds up quick!
Growing up, did you always consider yourself an entrepreneur?
Not necessarily in the traditional sense. I never envisioned myself owning my own rep agency, but when I raced MTB I kind of had to sell myself. Results were always key, but I always wanted to find other ways to work with potential sponsors and what they as a company were looking for. Now that I do own my own business it’s amazing and I’m not sure I could ever have a job where I’m not the boss. Haha. I’ve just had so much freedom with my time and to me that’s the most important thing. Of course, you need to survive but I never want to take a job because of the money.
What’s next for you, life, sport, and career-wise?
I’m not totally sure. We’ll see after Tokyo. I don’t know if I’ll play another three years until Paris. A lot of it depends on our team and who decides to stay until 2024. We have such good chemistry right now so being able to capitalize on that is important. I think I’ll always be involved with adaptive MTB (aMTB) and continually trying to grow the sport, but there are other things I’d like to do. I’ve been putting some thought to representing athletes. Both para- and able-bodied athletes. I’d like to be able to help with marketing strategies to help athletes pursue their dreams and create a brand.