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Collin Cameron hoping to add more medals to his trophy cabinet at Paralympics

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The experience for Collin Cameron at his second Winter Paralympics will be different than his first, but his goals haven’t changed.

“I’m just trying to keep some of the same goals I had going into PyeongChang four years ago and just wanting some consistent results but still, of course, having in the back of my head that I have some loftier goals than I did four years ago,” he says.

He doesn’t say if he’s expecting to medal, but coming off three bronzes at the 2018 Winter Paralympics, it’s certainly a possibility that he could be on the podium.

The former Port Sydney resident medaled in the 7.5 and 15 kilometre biathlon events and the cross country relay. Cameron doesn’t have his race schedule yet, but believes he’ll be competing in “six or seven races” and, if he’s in good shape at the end of the games, that will include the cross country relay with his Canadian teammates.

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“No matter what’s going to happen, as long as I race the best I know that I can I’m going to be happy with that and that’s what I did four years ago,” he says.

Right now, Cameron is training high in the Alberta mountains with his teammates in preparation for his Feb. 25 plane ride to Beijing. Where they’re training, Apex Mountain in Penticton, B.C., is similar to the elevation they will experience when competing.

Cameron says the past few years have been “unique” because of COVID-19. He believes most of his teammates haven’t competed in an international race since December 2019. The majority of them were back competing in Kenora, Ont. last December. “We all want to race,” Cameron says. “It’s been hard for sure not having a regular world cup schedule.”

Thanks to his mom, Denise McChesney, and Leon’s Bracebridge, a banner was installed at the Silver Bridge. “That’s the biggest part for me: having the support from my hometown,” he says.

The 33-year-old says finances can be a barrier for some to get into athletics. Cameron adds while people see the results of their hard work, the work they put in is often not talked about. “Grinding through a three-hour training session in a blizzard when it’s -15,” he says can be difficult, if not impossible, without support.

Going back four years to PyeongChang, he says he’s noticed the Paralympics getting more attention both in Canada across the border. He hopes that trend continues and events involving para-athletes are easier to access. “We’ve noticed that we’ve started to have some of our world cup races streamed online, which is amazing because when I started racing none of this was available online,” he says.

Cameron hopes that he and other athletes can be an inspiration to other people living with disabilities. “Finding someone that has never tried a parasport and helping them have a light that clicks on,” he says.

He only got involved in parasports when he was 26, first competing in para-ice hockey. “It was a complete change in my life because you then find this community where you feel accepted, finally,” he says. “If there’s someone at home sitting there with a disability and they can take some inspiration from watching para-nordic skiing or hockey and say ‘hey mom, dad, I want to do that,” he says.

Competitive or not, he says getting involved in para-sports can be life-changing.

Cameron leaves for Beijing on Feb. 25th. The 2022 Paralympic Games begin on March 4 and runs until the 13.

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