After a helicopter accident in 2007 changed his life, wheelchair curler Mark Ideson had initially avoided any sports he had played before.
The 46-year-old had played hockey, baseball, and curled, but had anxiety about trying to get back in sports.
Canadian curling is lucky he did, because the Paralympian has since won a gold in wheelchair curling in 2014, and a pair of bronzes – most recently at the Beijing Games.
“I thought if I played any sport that I had already played able-bodied it would definitely lead to some frustration because it would really put on eye on the change in abilities I had,” he said on a video call from London, Ont.
“Life had already become frustrating enough and I didn’t want to add that to my plate as well.”
A persistent group of local wheelchair curlers, a coach, and missing the competitive nature of sport brought Ideson back.
“It’s a great community of local wheelchair curlers and they’re all great people. It was definitely a value add for live just to be around them,” he said.
“Just to be around people in similar situations as to what I’m living, and it was really just answering the question to go out and give it a try, so I eventually did.”
The Western University graduate said it’s important for anyone going through life altering change to find a group of like-minded people to connect with, and for him it was curlers.
He found the wheelchair game suited his abilities and noted the two types of curling have many similarities but also some differences. The biggest distinction between the two games is wheelchair curling doesn’t have sweeping.
Three medals later, the Parry Sound, Ont. native encourages anyone of any ability to try it.
“It’s a fun sport. It’s a team sport, but there’s an individual aspect to it and it’s very social,” said the Canadian skip. “Curling clubs across the country are looking for new curlers and happy to pass on their wisdom.”
Ideson is a father to two teenagers who are also involved in sport. His son Myles, 13, is an avid snowboarder and mountain biker, while daughter Brooklyn, 16, is also a curler.
The Paralympian said it’s been fun to be a part of her early curling career. She’s competing in the provincial U18 championships in Kingston, Ont. that run from March 30-April 3.
“I get to go be a spectator and just be dad.”