Wheelchair curler Collinda Joseph was pleased with how her first Paralympic experience went, especially the reward at the end.
The 56-year-old Stittsville, Ont., native was the alternate on the Canadian rink that won bronze on March 11 by defeating Slovakia, 8-3. She appeared in one game in Beijing.
“Coming home with a medal from my first Paralympic Games was pretty amazing,” she said, on an internet call from Ottawa. “I was totally thrilled about that.”
A graduate of Carleton University, and Algonquin College, has several favourite memories from the games, including the opening ceremony.
“Being in the stadium and taking all of that in,” she said. “It made it official that I was a Paralympian during that moment.”
Joseph had previously competed for Canada at three Wheelchair Curling World Championships, but said that the scale of the Paralympics stood out.
The mother of two pointed to the media presence as being much larger compared to the World Championships, where not every sheet received broadcast coverage.
“You had a mike on you while you were playing and you had to remember you had a mike on while you were playing,” she said with a laugh. “I think the fact that people were able to watch it here, at home, on CBC Gem, meant that more people were engaging.”
That included her parents who were getting up at two or three in the morning to watch matches then going to bed for a few hours before the next game started at seven or eight.
Joseph’s teammates had two main pieces of advice: enjoy the moment and not to get caught up in it.
“When I did go in, I was told just play,” she said. “It’s still a curling game and it’s still opposition that you would play at other events.
“Try to minimize the scale of where you’re playing as much as possible.”
She admitted being nervous throwing the first couple of stones, but began to settle in once the game started.
Joseph works for Accessibility Standards Canada, where she helps develop national policy.
Many of Eastern Canada’s aging curling rinks aren’t accessible to wheelchair curlers Joseph said, and the Paralympics can bring more attention to their sport.
“I think it might spark interest for more accessible curling clubs across Canada.”