"We’d love to win Parapan Ams, because it is on home soil and it is fun to win.”
Tracey Ferguson, a six-time Paralympic veteran of Canada’s wheelchair basketball team, is aiming to win gold at this August’s Parapan American Games in Toronto, Canada.
The 40-year-old is no stranger to success having made her Paralympic debut at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games. Together with her teammates she won three successive Paralympic titles starting in Barcelona and going through to Sydney eight years later.
Last year, she was part of the team that won the world title on home soil in the same venue that will stage the wheelchair basketball competition during this August’s event.
“We’d love to win Parapan Ams, because it is on home soil and it is fun to win,” said Ferguson. “But we’d love to put on a great show for the people of Toronto and secure a spot for 2016 in Rio, because ultimately that is why we’re playing. You can never take for granted that you’ll qualify so I think we have to insure that we remain focused on it.”
Team Canada is scheduled to play Cuba, Argentina, and Venezuela during pool-play at the Parapans, and could face USA, Brazil, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic during the knockout matches. Ferguson expects no easy matches.
“I think the women’s wheelchair basketball worlds showed it - that we went from sixth to first in two years, and that Australia went from silver to sixth - the games are so competitive in the top seven-eight teams in the world, that every game could be a stunner.
“You have to be 100 per cent on your game and ready to take on any one on any day because the teams are just getting to be that close. The Parapan Ams will be interesting.”
With a strong mix of veteran athletes and up-and-coming talent, along with the support of the Team Canada staff, Ferguson feels ready for what is to come.
“Canada has a fantastic history of supporting Paralympic sports and after winning Worlds they said, ‘Okay. We’d really love to see you on top of the podium in 2016 and we’re going to try and help you to get there. Now you have to put in the work.’ It’s pressure, but it’s a positive pressure, and a great opportunity for us.”
Wheelchair basketball is one of 15 sports that will be played at the Parapan American Games that will feature 1,600 athletes from 28 countries.