Paralympians inspire young P.A. racer

Matthew Gourlie
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Charmaigne Gamble was a winner even before she crossed the finish line at the SHSAA track and field provincials.

Charmaigne Gamble smiles while she races down the track while coaches and athletes from Prince Albert St. Mary cheer her on in the background at the SHSAA provincial track and field championships.

It wasn't just that Gamble was the only competitor in the 100-metre wheelchair race that guaranteed her success. No, the Grade 9 student from Prince Albert St. Mary had achieved so much just by getting on the track.

"It's my first year and I didn't think that was going to happen,"  said Gamble, who is 15. "I thought I could do anything I tried. I just wanted to do my best. I had my team and they were a really big help and they were very supportive."

Gamble finished the 100 metres in just under two-and-a-half minutes. The applause from the crowd was constant as she went down the track. It was the longest and loudest ovation of the weekend.

As Gamble rolled down the track, a number of St. Mary teammates and coaches followed her from the side of the track every metre of the way, cheering her on. As she crossed the finish line, Gamble put her hands to her face and was quickly surrounded by a mob of Maruaders who all hugged her.

"That was the best part, knowing you have these really good friends who are there to support you and really good teachers who have your back no matter what you go through," said Gamble. "For a moment there I was in my own world. I noticed that everyone was cheering me on and I was just so happy."

While Gamble was inspiring the crowd at Gutherirdge Field, she was drawing her inspiration from a pair of Paralympians from Prince Albert.

"My inspiration is Colette Bourgonje and Brittany Hudak," said Gamble. "I've never met Brittany, but I know Colette because she helped me out. She's been through a lot in her life too, so I know how she feels."

Bourgonje has competed in six Winter Paralympic Games in sit-skiing and three Summer Paralympic Games as a wheelchair racer. Gamble was racing in Bourgonje racing wheelchair which added to the significance of the occasion. She said she felt like Bourgonje was there in spirit cheering her on.

Hudak took part in para-Nordic skiing at the Sochi Paralympics. Bourgonje met Hudak at a Canadian Tire in Prince Albert and talked to her about taking part in para-Nordic skiing.

Logan Heeg from Dalmeny also took part in the boys 100m wheelchair race.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Canadian Tire

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