PARRY SOUND – When Mark Ideson dreams, he dreams big.
Mark Ideson heads to Sochi, Russia this weekend to play for Canada in the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship.
M. Andrew Annuar photo
This weekend the former Parry Sounder will be Sochi, Russia, for the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship.
“It’s been a busy season up to this point. I’m practicing two to three times a week at the Ilderton Curling Club, but have changed provincial teams for the 2013 season,” he said last month. “I will be playing the vice position for Jim Armstrong out of the Galt Golf and Country Club. Jim is the skip of the Canadian wheelchair curling team and it was a good opportunity to learn from a man that’s been playing the game for over 50 years and skipped the team to Gold in Vancouver in 2010.”
A helicopter accident in on Feb. 2, 2006 left the then 30-year-old a quadriplegic, but that didn’t stop him from continuing on with his love of curling that began here in Parry Sound.
In 2011 Ideson skipped for his team from the Iderton Curling Club to a third place finish at the Ontario Provincial Wheelchair Curling Championships. Last year, he won the Ontario Wheelchair Championships on the same team and represented Ontario at the National Wheelchair Curling Championships in Thunder Bay, coming home with a bronze medal.
At the provincial championships in Gananoque, on January 23-26, Ideson said the week went well, but the team lost in an extra end in the semi-final, which was a little disappointing.
Ideson said his dream to be a Paralympian evolved while watching the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Playing in Russia, is the first step towards that dream.
“There was a piece shown on TV about John Montgomery, who is a gold medalist in the skeleton, that inspired me. He chose a sport that he could sink his heart and soul into to represent Canada at the Olympics and he succeeded in doing so. Just after that aired I called my buddy Mike (Munroe, also a quadriplegic) and said if we’re going to be sitting down for the duration then we should sink our heart and soul into a sport and see if we can make it to the Paralympics in 2014.”
During the 2011 season, the Canadian National team coaches and players held training camps across the country to build and develop the grassroots of wheelchair curling and to look for new talent. From those camps, 25 athletes were selected to travel to Vancouver in November 2011 for the first of many team selection camps.
Throughout those camps, Ideson said the athletes were whittled down to 14, then eight players and just before Christmas 2011, the five team members were announced; Ideson made the team.
“I got off the phone and was very quiet as my family had a mini dance party in the living room,” Ideson said of learning he’d made it “It was an emotional moment because I had worked so hard. I really had sunk my heart and soul into it and never knew if it would become reality. It was definitely surreal and exciting all at the same time. I had a goal and I have reached it. My new goal is to continue to maintain my position by learning everything that I can from the national coaches and my mentor Jim Armstrong; so that I can continue to wear our country’s flag on my back. I am honoured and truly proud to be representing Canada on the world stage. I’m really excited to be heading to Sochi and the challenges that come with it...but I’m ready to go. I know all the training will payoff.”
Ideson credits his hometown, supportive family and friends for reaching this goal.
“Thank you to my wife who looks after our household while I am training and my kids who are daddy’s number one fans, my parents who have attended many wheelchair curling events not only to cheer me on but assist the team in any way possible, the Burke’s for rooting me on as well as sponsoring my provincial team, Ray Pavlove for organizing a training fundraiser and to
all those who donated, I couldn’t have done it without your help,” Ideson said.