Curler Forrest and hockey player Westlake named Canada’s flag bearers for Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony

When Team Canada enters the Indoor National Stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games, it will be led by wheelchair curler Ina Forrest and Para hockey player Greg Westlake.

The Canadian Paralympic Committee announced Tuesday that Forrest and Westlake will be the team flag bearers for the event, which begins Friday at 6:30 a.m. ET on CBC-TV, the free CBC Gem app and CBCSports.ca.

Forrest, 59, will be competing at his fourth straight Games. She won gold in the first two but is now looking to avenge her 2018 bronze medal as part of a Canadian rink run by fellow Paralympic veteran Mark Ideson.

“It’s a great privilege to be asked to carry the flag, and it will truly be an honor, a thrill and a responsibility to carry the flag and show the world all the great athletes behind me,” Forrest said.

“I remember my first appearance at Vancouver 2010 and the feeling you had with the roar of all the Canadian fans, and I know that family and friends and many Canadians look up to us and support us in the same way. I hope first of all – Paralympians feel the same way at these Games because it’s a tremendous proud moment to be Canadian.”

Forrest’s curling career began 20 years after she was hit by a drunk driver, leaving her paralyzed.

The Spallumcheen, BC, debuted in the sport at age 41 in 2004, and she was named to the national team two years later. She has now competed in 12 consecutive world championships, winning three gold medals in addition to a silver. Canada was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the last Worlds in 2021.

Forrest was also inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 2016.

Ina Forrest, front, pictured competing at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in 2017, will be competing at her fourth consecutive Paralympic Games. (Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

Westlake hopes to regain gold

Westlake, 35, is a former captain of the Canadian para hockey team looking to win his fourth medal at his fifth Games. The Oakville, Ont., native helped Canada win gold in 2006 before missing out on the podium in 2010 and bouncing back for bronze in 2014.

He was also part of the 2018 squad that was seemingly on course to win back gold before giving up the equalizer to the United States with less than 40 seconds remaining in the title match. The Americans would win in overtime.

“It’s an incredible honor to carry the Canadian flag in the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, and to share this honor with an exceptional athlete like Ina is very special,” said Westlake.

“Although I am very proud to represent my country and to be a member of the Canadian Paralympic team for my fifth Games, I am truly touched and cannot thank my teammates, coaches and staff enough, as well as all those who participated in the selection processes for this amazing opportunity.”

LISTEN | Westlake joins CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice podcast:

Westlake, whose legs were amputated below the knees at just 18 months, is Canada’s third all-time Paralympic scorer with 18 points. He will hand over the captaincy to Tyler McGregor, 27, in Beijing.

Canada’s Chef de Mission, Josh Dueck, said both athletes have earned the right to lead Canada to these Games.

“Ina and Greg are not only two of Canada’s most successful Paralympians who have reached the absolute pinnacle of their sport, they also embody the best of Paralympic values ​​and are incredible ambassadors for the sport,” Dueck said.

“Carrying the flag is a well-deserved honor for both of them and a reflection of their years of dedication and achievement. I will be proud to walk behind them in the opening ceremony and know the entire team has their backs.”

Canada named its 49-person Paralympic team, including 30 veterans and 19 rookies, shortly after the Olympics ended.

Friday’s opening ceremony will be hosted in English by veteran broadcaster Scott Russell and in French by Marie-José Turcotte and retired swimmer Benoît Huot, who won 20 Paralympic and 32 world championship medals in 20 years with the Canadian national team.

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies (March 13) will be presented with closed captioning, described video and American Sign Language integrations.

Catherine J. Martinez