The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Rick Hansen

Wheelchair Athlete

1983


Photograph of Rick Hansen at an outdoor track

Photograph of Rick Hansen at an outdoor track

Date
Late 1970’s – 1980’s
Collection
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

Once an athlete…always an athlete!

As a youngster Rick Hansen was passionate about outdoor adventures and his life was totally infused with the excitement of sport. By the time he was 15 he was hooked on volleyball and dreamed of one day representing Canada on an international stage.

Before he turned 16, his life would take a dramatic turn when he sustained a spinal cord injury in a devastating accident in which he was thrown from the back of a pickup truck. He was paralyzed from the waist down and would never walk again.

Through the support and encouragement of family, friends, and coaches he soon realized he was still the same person. He still loved sports – he could still compete.

The definition of an athlete was not about whether you could use your legs or not. That became crystal clear when he was invited out for his first wheelchair basketball practice and was overwhelmed by the unbelievable athletic capability of the athletes.

That helped spark his full re-entry into sport. Although a member of the Canadian National Wheelchair Basketball Team for six years his focus became track and field and the marathon. Setting a goal of reaching the highest level he pioneered his own training regimen that pushed the envelope in terms of fitness, strength and race tactics. He never stopped tinkering with his most important piece of equipment – the chair.

In 1982 he showcased his athletic prowess and versatility. At the Pan American Wheelchair Games in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he won 9 gold medals on the track in events from 100 to 5000 metres, setting five world records along the way. He added a silver medal as a member of the basketball team.

In the same year he dominated the marathon with wins in Oita, Japan, Boston, Massachusetts, Ft. Collins, Colorado, and Miami, Florida. He added two popular victories at the Canadian National Wheelchair Marathon in Montreal, Quebec, and the Vancouver International Marathon, in British Columbia.

Add a gold medal at the British Columbia Wheelchair Tennis Championships and a victory at a Pro Am Racquetball Tournament in Vancouver to an already remarkable year.

You just can’t take the athlete out of Rick Hansen.

Gretzky, Hansen get Marsh awards Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1979, 1980, 1982
National Disabled Athlete of the Year
1982
Pan-American Wheelchair Games (9 gold medals, 9 records)
1983
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1983
Canadian outstanding athlete of the year (co-winner with Wayne Gretzky)
1984
VII World Wheelchair Games - Gold medal and Silver medal
1984
World Wheelchair Champion - Marathon
1985-1987
Man in Motion World Tour (40,072 km)