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2014-02-11 at 21:58

Sochi bound

By Leith Dunick,
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Five months ago, the idea of a second trip to the Paralympic Games was the furthest thing from Robbi Weldon’s mind.

Severely injured in a tandem cycling training session in Matane, Que. preparing for the upcoming world championships, recovery was all that concerned the Thunder Bay athlete.

Bound and determined not to let it set her back, Weldon’s Sochi dreams were realized on Tuesday when she got the call from national team coach Robbie McKeever, cementing her spot on the 10-kilometre mixed relay team.

Though still recovering from her injuries – team officials will decide next month if she’s ready to compete on the global stage – Weldon is eying the top of the podium again.

“Gold would be fantastic for sure. Brian McKeever is a multi-gold medallist in many Paralympics in the past and Mark Ardenz from Prince Edward Island is a young up-and-coming skier. He’s doing very well in biathalon,” Weldon said, shortly after getting the call.

“To be able to combine the three of us in a relay is very exciting. We’re going to have to look at the conditions there.”

Weldon, who won gold at the London Paralympic Games with tandem cycling partner Lyne Bessette, said she plans to do what’s best for the team when making the decision whether or not to race next month when the event begins.

“For sure Brian and Mark want to have a shot at gold, and if I’m not able to be at level by the time of the competition, our head coach will make a decision. I’m going into it fully aware that things can change. “

She’s also scheduled to take part in the skate sprints.
Weldon admitted it would be difficult to go to Russia and not be able to compete.

“It’s a great honour to be on the Canadian team and to be back into race shape and ready to go,” said Weldon, has only been back on skis for the past four weeks and will take part in this weekend’s Ontario Cup races at Lappe along with teammate Margarita Gobounova.

“For sure, being in Sochi we want to compete. Our Canadian athletes in the Olympics and the Paralympics want to be 100 per cent, but we’re always dealing with injuries here and there. Hopefully I’ll be able to compete. It would be disappointing not to be able to, but if I do it I want to give 100 per cent and give the best shot for Brian and Mark as a team.”

The weekend races will also give her a chance to get acquainted with her new guide, Yukon’s Graham Nishikawa, whose sister Emily is competing at the Olympic Games. Nishikawa, a former member of Canada’s senior men’s national cross-country team, takes over for long-time guide Brian Berry.

The Paralympic Games are slated to begin on March 7.

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