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Local athletes going for Paralympic gold in London

OTTAWA-16 local athletes are competing in the London 2012 Paralympic games.

All are taking part in a variety of sports, for many this is their first time at the Paralympics.

For Tony Walby, competing is nothing new. Up until the age of 35, Walby was a member of the national able-bodied judo team. It was around this time at he was declared legally blind, but not one to slow down this Ottawa native started competing again in a different category, going to the Parapan American Games and now the Paralympics for the first time.

Brothers Jason and Jonathan Dunkerly have been involved in blind racing for years. This will be Jason’s fourth time at the games, and Jon’s second. Jason has taken home two silvers and a bronze over the years and his brother Jon hopes to bring home his first from London this year.

Also taking part in the blind racing is Brandon King who trains in Ottawa with guide runner Andrew Heffernan. This will be his first trip to the Paralympics.

Four members of Ottawa’s Bytown Goalball team are in London competing for gold at the Paralympics; Whitney Bogart, Amy Kneebone, Jill MacSween, and Cassandra Orgeles will join their other two other teammates on the court.

Equestrian Jody Schloss has been riding since she was 11, but it wasn’t until a car accident in her 20’s left her in a coma that she got into competitive Para-dressage. She trains at Swan Manor Stables in Oxford Mills.

Ottawa will be represented during the wheelchair races with Leah Robinson and Curtis Thom. This is the second time they’ve competed in the Paralympics. In Beijing 2008, Robinson was the youngest member of the team at age 14.

The youngest member of the Canadian rowing team’s mixed coxed four is Ottawa’s David Blair.  Blair discovered rowing at the Ottawa Rowing Club.

For Camille Bérubé, being in the water makes her forget about her disability. She is one of Canada’s fastest rising stars in International Para swimming. Bérubé, a Gatineau native, says she never expected to reach national team status as quickly as she did. This will be her first time competing at the Paralympics.

And two Russell Township athletes have also made the trip to London.

Brianna Jennett-McNeill of Russell will be competing in swimming, and Patrice ‘Pico’ Dagenais, is part of Canada’s wheelchair rugby team.