Training, hours of hard work and the love of the game has helped bring a local basketball player to the other side of the world.
Lori Radke, who was raised in Ponoka, competed in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in China. The Games were held on Sept. 6 to 17 and many people came together from all over the world in hopes of winning a medal.
Radke has previously competed in past Paralympic Games including Atlanta 1996 where her team claimed a gold medal, Sydney 2000 bringing home a gold medal and Athens 2004 where they achieved bronze.
In Beijing the women’s wheelchair basketball team placed 5th out of 10 teams. There were two pools of five, the team lost one round robin game to Japan by three points and worked hard to win the other games and went to the finals. The team played the Australians in the finals and lost by four points.
“They were two really close games,” said Radke. “We have never gone home without medaling, so it was a bit disappointing because we knew we could have placed higher.”
Radke’s experience in Beijing was memorable and she was impressed with the organization, transportation and friendliness of the people there.
“They did a fantastic job, they really embraced the paralympics” she said. “The venues were outstanding and even the practice venues we went to were very nice. Organizationally, it was definitely the best; everything ran on time, they had a million volunteers, the transportation was there when you needed it, etc.”
As for the quality of the air in Beijing, Radke says she has noticed a difference and did not witness too many horribly polluted, smoggy days.
“I was there in January for a test event and the pollution was really bad, you could smell it and taste it, it was terrible” she said. “When we went for the games it was way better, I was skeptical that they would keep the factories closed like they did with the Olympics, but it seems like they did. It makes you hope that things will get better for their own country.”
Radke was pleased to be a part of the team and represent Canada and was glad to be a part of the experience.
“I’m very fortunate to be on a team with great people,” she said. “It’s fun, I love playing the game and the opening ceremonies is always a great thing and to be a part of Team Canada is a great honour.”
Radke is taking some time to relax and refresh herself after an intense season but will still be involved and active with basketball.
“Right now I’m taking some time to recover and reflect on this and I’ll continue to play on some level,” she said.
Canada finished 7th overall in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and brought home 50 medals. Since 1968 Team Canada has won 359 gold medals, 292 silver medals and 295 bronze medals totaling 947.
For further results and more information visit the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Associations website at www.cwba.ca.