Elmira’s Katie Harnock is gearing up for her chance at gold.
Harnock, a member of Canada’s wheelchair basketball team, will be arriving in London on Aug. 22, in time for the Paralympics.
She has been a member of the team since 2006, and this will be her second time at the Paralympic Games, after competing in Beijing in 2008, earning a fifth-place finish. Since joining Team Canada, Harnock won gold and bronze medals at World Championships in 2006 and 2010. Most recently, she helped Canada to a silver medal at the 2011 Parapan American Games.
Harnock has been spending the better part of her summer in Winnipeg, training with the team, the first time her team has spent extensive time together as a group.
“It’s something we knew we needed to do to be prepared for London,” said Harnock.
The team would train together six days a week, with three-hour practice sessions 10 to 11 times a week, said Harnock.
“Putting in all that effort full time, we know it will pay off.”
Harnock has been playing wheelchair basketball competitively since she was 16 years old, playing with the Twin City Spinners in Kitchener. Harnock, who has been living with her disability her entire life, said she has always been physically active, trying a number of sports, including sledge hockey.
Early on, though, basketball became a clear favourite.
“I’ve always played all kinds of sports since I was a kid, and basketball was definitely my preferred sport,” said Harnock. “I never thought I would be doing what I am now, when I was a kid. Basketball was fun, and I just enjoyed playing it.”
Harnock said that she is looking forward to the Paralympic Games, as she remembers just how exciting it was to play in Beijing.
Harnock, who is currently on a full scholarship at the University of Alabama, said the most fans that will come out to a game is 800 people, and it’s mostly friends and family that come out to support the team.
But, when Team Canada played in Beijing, there were 20,000 fans on hand to watch the games.
“When you walk out in the arena, knowing you are playing for Canada, it’s amazing,” said Harnock.
Team Canada left this week for a pre-Games tournament in the Netherlands, where they will be playing against many of the teams they will face in London. After that, they will arrive in London on Aug. 22, with their first game scheduled for Aug. 31, against the Netherlands.
Harnock said her team has one goal in mind for London 2012.
“I want to win,” said Harnock.
“The goal, to us, with all the work we’ve put in, the preparation we have done… the gold medal is what we’re after.”