Paralympic Hall of Famer and Kimberley hometown hero Josh Dueck has been elected to the International Paralympic Committee Athlete Board for a four-year term.
It’s been a busy winter for Dueck, so the decision to take up the challenge of this new role was not an easy one. His day job, organizing Freestyle BC, is currently in full swing with their high-performance team traveling to train and compete across North America and Europe. Dueck supported this program as well as the development of other freestyle programs including Kimberley, Panorama and Fernie.
READ MORE: Josh Dueck inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame
She told the Bulletin that alone was enough to keep her busy and excited, but then she also has her two children in the ski program and can do some Nordic skiing and downhill skiing together as a family too.
In addition, in winter 2022 Dueck left for China as Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2022 Beijing Paralympics.
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“It was strong, it was everything I thought it would be and more,” Dueck said.
“It’s been incredible to be so close to the athletes and to support them in the last leg of their journey and watch them excel and it’s really impressive given the circumstances over the two years of building it, how prepared all the athletes are to arrive and be there. almost like this sigh of relief that we all made it there safely and then this deeper gratitude.”
Immediately, from observing how hungry, humble, and grateful all the athletes competed, Dueck knew the Olympics would be amazing, and he was delighted with everyone’s performance. This included great performances from the junior athletes — it was the first time in a match for 19 of the 49 athletes who went to Beijing — as well as older statesmen like Brian McKeever, who Dueck said led and continued to dominate the game. field.
READ MORE: Paralympics in a much better place thanks to McKeever, Westlake, Bridges from Canada
With the pandemic heading there and the invasion of Ukraine underway, Dueck said athletes were trying to focus on the game, supporting their Ukrainian friends.
“I don’t think we will and I hope we’ll never see an Olympics like that,” he said. “But our team did well and our hosts did a great job, the Beijing Organizing Committee – the venues are great and the volunteers are very friendly and very helpful, so it made for, purely from an athletic perspective, a really good game. “
The opportunity to be nominated to the IPC Paralympic Committee came in January, when the Canadian Paralympic Committee, which regulates all Paralympic Sports in Canada, told Dueck they wanted to nominate him to sit on the IPC Athlete Board if he was elected. interested.
As previously stated, Dueck is in the middle of a very busy winter, but feels that if they believe he is a good candidate to represent Canada and that he has a chance to win the seat, he is open to talking about it. .
They explained to him that he was a good fit because at 42, he is relatively young, but has 25 years of experience in the sports sector, plus they said he is passionate, cares about sports and athletes, is invested and wants to see some changes.
“I hope that the life experience I’ve had brings great value to the board and at the same time, it’s a big step for me at the moment,” Dueck said.
“Now I sit on the board for the International Sporting Community and represent the voice of athletes and there are only a handful of us from around the world who can represent summer and winter sports and showcase what athletes and countries are different. see as a priority in terms of the things that need to change.”
Dueck said he expects the first year of a four-year term to involve getting his feet wet, and starting to understand how boards operate and what their main concerns are.
There are three main areas that Dueck focuses on: safe sport, classification and vocational transition of athletes.
He explained that the issue of classification in the paralympic sports seems quite controversial. There are three main categories: visually impaired, standing and sitting. Within each of these there are further classifications, for example in the sitting category, a person can be paralyzed from the chest down, or from the navel down, or from below the waist.
“I thought about skiing, but then there are five winter sports, there are a few dozen winter sports and it gets really complicated and very contested now,” he said. “So that’s definitely one of the board’s top priorities like, how do we classify? Who we provide — like physiotherapists, coaches, etc.”
The realignment or transition of athletes — supporting them in their transition to both high-performance sports, but even more so on their way out — is another issue of great importance to Dueck.
He referred to Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps’ documentary where he spoke about the disappointments he experienced after his sporting career ended.
“You’d think that he’s the kind of guy who would have had everything and a mountain of opportunities, but he’s even felt the pain of leaving the sport and I can definitely tell you from my court that it was really challenging,” Dueck said. “At least the first few years out of the sport and even eight years later, I still remember it fondly, and the transition for me wasn’t that smooth, it was quite bumpy and I think there are ways we can improve. that.”
Dueck’s passion for skiing has humble roots, working the paper route for the Kimberley Bulletin to pay for his first pair of skis. From there, a fast forward track through competitive skiing, but financial constraints kept him from competing at Olympic level, so he went into training.
His para-alpine skiing started after breaking his back in a mistake in 2004. Since then, his accolades and achievements have been endless; gold and silver medals at the Olympics and X Games, being the first person to backflip on sit-skis, being named in the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame to name a few.
READ MORE: Josh Dueck Kimberley replaces him in the BC Sports Hall of Fame
His transition from skiing to sports governance came with luck on his part, he said, as his role as executive director for Frestyle BC was a by-product of the sports community he grew up in, including several athletes from Kimberley who were on board as well.
When some of his old friends encouraged him to apply, Dueck said he would be the first person with a disability at least in Canada, and possibly in the world, to take on a role in regulating able-bodied sport.
“That was probably one of the big stepping stones for me to qualify and become the IBC Athlete Board,” he said. “So it’s pretty cool how the sport itself can take care of itself and I feel like I’ve been very lucky that way, but it took a lot of work and a lot of time to finally get to where I am now, like 25 years. in the sporting sector and then, let’s call it what it is, maybe a bit of luck.”
When he retired from the Paralympics, Dueck said he felt incredibly lucky to look back on his storied career, and knew he had to do something to give back and this new opportunity on the IPC Athlete Board was a good place to do it.
“I don’t think this would have been possible without the support of the Canadian Parlaypic Committee and they pushed me in the right direction and supported the actual campaign itself,” he said. “Many credits to the Canadian Paralympic Committee and those who have come before me to pave the way and now is my chance to take on a pretty sweet contribution.”
READ MORE: Josh Dueck to retire from competitive skiing
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