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Okotoks wheelchair rugby star helps Canada earn Paralympic spot

Alberta's Zak Madell and Team Canada bound for Paris 2024
Zak Madell, pictured at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan, helped Team Canada qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games with a silver medal at the last-chance qualification event in New Zealand.

A fourth trip to the Paralympic Games is in the cards for Okotoks’ wheelchair rugby star.

Zak Madell and Team Canada qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games with a silver medal finish at the last-chance qualification tournament in Wellington, New Zealand from March 20-24.

“It was a really good week for us,” said head coach Patrick Côté, in a Wheelchair Rugby Canada release. “Couldn’t be prouder of our team. Every game, the team came out ready, fired up and united. It was good to see Matt (Debly), Rio (Kanda Kovac) and Joel (Ewert) show up like vets and carry a lot of the load for us. They were key in our qualification.

“The team continues to show growth, pushing the bar higher…the next few months will be exciting.”

Canada had a 4-1 record at the qualification event, losing a 49-48 thriller to rival Australia in the gold medal game.

Earlier in the competition, Canada downed Brazil 57-39, the Netherlands 55-35 and host New Zealand by a 54-39 count.

Madell, a Holy Trinity Academy alumnus, has been a focal point on the past three Canadian teams at the Paralympics. He won silver in his debut on the stage in London 2012, was fourth at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and fifth at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Canada has qualified for the Paralympic Games in wheelchair rugby since the sport debuted at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

In Paris, Canada will be up against a strong field including Australia, the top-ranked United States, defending champions Great Britain, third-ranked Japan along with Germany and France.

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games run Aug. 28-Sept. 8.

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Remy Greer

About the Author: Remy Greer

Remy Greer is the assistant editor and sports reporter for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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