RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Jason Dunkerley is about finished with competitive athletics.
The community, that might be harder to let go.
If you haven’t heard of Paralympian Jason Joseph Dunkerley, you might be too late.
The Canadian just wrapped up what could potentially be his final T11 1500m race, finishing in fifth place.
“This is going to be my last Paralympics I’m pretty sure,” Dunkerley said, following his fifth Paralympics. “I don’t know how I am going to face that because for such a long time I’ve been part of this really special family. Year in, year out we see people around the competitive circle, you are part of this community.”
The five-time medal winner has taken breaks from competition in the past but always returned to the track.
In 2005 he and his guide were hit by a car while training and Dunkerley sustained a broken leg and a fractured skull that required months of surgery and rehab before he was able to train again.
Eight years later, in 2013, he took time away from the sport to care for his wife, who was suffering from kidney problems. After discovering they were a match, he donated a kidney to her.
“I think all of us have had some kind of, facing challenges or adversity in different ways,” he said. “I think (the Paralympic) movement is about rising above that and moving forward in the spirit of sport and sportsmanship. It really is a beautiful movement and it is exciting to see it evolve and be part of it, still.”
For Dunkerley, the spirit of the games means one thing.
“I think it means community,” he said. “Talking to some of the therapists and coaches that have worked with Olympic teams, on the able bodies side, I think there is something unique and special about the Paralympics.”