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12721-Billy Bridges photo

Billy Bridges

Para Ice Hockey
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Biography

Impairment information

Origin of Impairment
Congenital

Further personal information

Family
Wife Sami Jo Small, daughter Kenzie
Residence
Mississauga, ON, CAN
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English
Higher education
English Literature - University of Toronto: Canada

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He took up the sport in 1996 at the Kitchener-Waterloo Sidewinders club in Ontario, Canada.
Why this sport?
He was introduced to Para ice hockey by Brad Bowden, who would become his international teammate, and Bowden's grandmother Colleen. "I think I was skateboarding at the time and they wanted to introduce me to some disabled sports. I remember the first time sitting in a sledge I just fell in love with it because I wanted to play hockey from such a young age."
Name of coach
Ken Babey [national], CAN
Preferred position / style / stance / technique
Forward

International debut

Year
1998
Competing for
Canada

General interest

Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Turin, and playing Para ice hockey at the highest level for Canada. (scotiabank.com, 03 Dec 2021)
Most influential person in career
His father. (Athlete, 07 Mar 2014)
Hero / Idol
Russian ice hockey player Alexander Ovechkin, Canadian ice hockey player Guy Lafleur. (Athlete, 07 Mar 2014; hockeycanada.ca, 2010)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable and challenge your own boundaries." (bvmsports.com, 12 Oct 2021)
Awards and honours
In 2018 a park in Summerside, PEI, Canada, was built and named after him. (cbc.ca, 25 Sep 2018)

In 2011 and 2012 he was named Athlete with an Impairment of the Year in Mississauga, ON, Canada. (billybridges.com, 15 Sep 2013)

He was named in the All-Star Team at the world championships in 2000, 2008 and 2012. (billybridges.com, 15 Sep 2013)

He was named in the All-Star Team at the 2002 and 2006 Paralympic Winter Games. (billybridges.com, 15 Sep 2013)

In 2002 he received the Queen's Jubilee Medal. (paralympic.ca, 19 Jan 2014)
Other sports
He won three medals [two gold, one bronze] in Para athletics at the 2015 Canadian Senior Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. He has also competed in professional wheelchair basketball in Spain, and played wheelchair tennis at international level. (bramptonguardian.com, 07 Jul 2015; paralympic.ca, 19 Jan 2014)
Famous relatives
His wife Sami Jo Small was part of the Canadian ice hockey team that won gold at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. (livewiresport.com, 06 Dec 2021; SportsDeskOnline, 30 Mar 2017)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. (bvmsports.com, 10 Oct 2021)
Impairment
He was born with spina bifida. (Athlete, 07 Mar 2014)
Other information
EXPERIENCED COMPETITOR
He made his international debut in 1998 and has played at six Paralympic Winter Games between 2002 and 2022. "My linemates [on the Canadian team in 2022] are Liam Hickey and James Dunn. I think I made the team before both of them were even born. I'm 37 now and I'm fighting hard just to be able to play with these guys and see what they can do. The sport has changed drastically. When I began, my sledges used to weigh 45 pounds [20 kilograms] and we had able-bodied hockey sticks. Obviously I'm ageing myself here but when I watch games now on TV it looks like I'm watching it on fast-forward. It's so incredible to see how fast every single player in the world moves and how good this game has become. If there's anything competition against USA has done [for] us, it has made us way better than we would have been without them." (OIS, 08 Mar 2022; SportsDeskOnline, 08 Mar 2022)

SPORTING WIFE
His wife Sami Jo Small played ice hockey at international level as a goaltender, and it took Bridges a while to get used to watching her play. "I wouldn't wish that upon anyone. I was new to having a partner that played sports and I knew how p***ed off she'd be if she had a goal scored on her. Every time the puck crossed the line I'd always be so rattled." (slapshotdiaries.com, 30 Jul 2015)

YOUNG TALENT
He made his international debut in 1998 at age 14, which at the time made him the youngest Para ice hockey player to have represented Canada. "The average age when I joined the team was 45. So joining as a young kid then was pretty tough." (cbc.ca, 20 Oct 2016; bleacherreport.com, 16 Feb 2013)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games (Salt Lake City, United States of America)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Tournament Preliminary 3
Men's Tournament Preliminary 7
Men's Tournament Preliminary 10
Men's Tournament Preliminary 13
Men's Tournament Preliminary 14
Men's Tournament Bronze Medal Match 1
Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games (Vancouver, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Mixed Bronze Medal Match 102
Mixed Semifinal 201
Mixed Group B 5
Mixed Group B 4
Mixed Group B 1
Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games (Torino, Italy)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Tournament Gold Medal Match 101
Men's Tournament Semifinal 202
Men's Tournament Group A 5
Men's Tournament Group A 4
Men's Tournament Group A 1
Paralympic Winter Games 2014 (Sochi, Russia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Mixed Group A 2014-03-08 2
Mixed Group A 2014-03-09 4
Mixed Group A - Standings 2014-03-11 1
Mixed Group A 2014-03-11 6
Mixed Semifinal 2014-03-13 202
Mixed Bronze Medal Match 2014-03-15 102
Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games (Pyeongchang, South Korea)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Mixed Tournament Group A 2018-03-10 2
Mixed Tournament Group A 2018-03-11 3
Mixed Tournament Group A 2018-03-12 4
Mixed Tournament Group A - Standings 2018-03-13 1
Mixed Tournament Semifinal 2018-03-15 1
Mixed Tournament Gold Medal Match 2018-03-18 1