There's nothing better than affecting people through sport.
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Athletics - Para
Canadian Nationals Champion, World Championship,Canada Summer Games Gold Medallist, Paralympic Hopeful, Rio 2016 Summer Paralympic Games
Some athletes wear a lucky number, others carry a good luck charm. Pamela LeJean has a lucky backhoe, and it travels with her to training camps and competitions around the world.
“My coach and I found this little yellow toy backhoe while we were outdoors training last year and named it our lucky backhoe,” says Pamela. “Its roof is bent up a bit from sharing space with heavy implements, like my five pound shot put, while we’re on the road, but it’s doing just fine otherwise.”
Strange? Maybe. But it seems to be working.
Just eight months after her introduction to throwing – shot put, discus and javelin - Pamela won bronze for Canada at her first World Championship in Lyon, France. That was July 2013. The next month, she brought home two medals - gold and silver - at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, QC.
Pamela, a Sydney, Cape Breton native who now calls Halifax home, was paralyzed following a car accident more than a decade ago. It was her wheelchair basketball coach who noticed her “albatross-like wingspan” and recommended she try out throwing. “I switched that day and it was the best decision of my life.”
Pamela is now working toward the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro but there is much to do between now and then. In addition to a demanding schedule that includes eight training sessions per week with a dedicated coach, Pamela’s throwing chair needs modifications and updates. Funding through Support4Sport will help cover a portion of these costs.
Introduced by the Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation in 2006, Support4Sport has raised more than $27 million through the sale of designated ticket lottery products to provide important funding to amateur and high performance athletes, coaches and community sport organizations.
Pamela has planned a busy travel schedule for 2015, and her coach will travel alongside her - an important, though not inexpensive, part of her road to Rio. “We are competing and training in Georgia, Dubai, Czech Republic and across Canada. I’m grateful to be able to put some of this grant money towards gaining the necessary experience to compete - and win - in Rio.”
The Cape Breton community from which she hails couldn’t be more supportive, naming Pamela Athlete of the Year in 2013. “It was such a huge honour to even be nominated with so many awesome athletes,” says Pamela.
Giving back to her community is also extremely important to Pamela. She serves on the Board of Athletics Nova Scotia as an athlete representative, where she brings forward the concerns of fellow athletes from across the province, and works to develop the Elite Athlete Program. She also helps coach a youth team through the Halifax Wheelchair Basketball Association.
Pamela’s high school rugby coach, Chris Nicholson, says it’s her positive attitude and her stick-to-itiveness that set her apart as an athlete, a coach and a person. “Ultimately, whenever you are with Pam, you know there is a belief that not only 'she can' but also 'you can' and as a result 'we can,’” says Chris. “There is no notion of the word can’t.”
As for Pamela, she is a tough cookie, and she’s willing to put in the time to make her Paralympic dreams come true.
“My goal is to win gold at the Paralympic Games in Brazil 2016,” says Pamela. You can bet the little yellow backhoe will be there, too.