Sunday, 20 March 2011

A few words with Paralympian Paul Rosen

While everyone was out celebrating St. Patty's day, I took my chance to interview three time Paralympic sledge-hockey player Paul Rosen. 

It was an awesome experience, and it was a bit of a shame that not a lot of people came to the event. Listening to his experiences,  seeing his Olympic souvenirs, and being able to touch his gold medal from Torino was something I would have never imagined I would be able to do.  Had I not looked at the Ryerson Today Events, I would have probably spent my time at home wallowing in piles of homework and unproductiveness.   

As for the people who DID attend Rosen's talk, he kept them interested and was very inspiring with his words.  I had an the pleasure to have a few words with the Paralympian and I even got to wear his medal! 

Hopefully by this week, an article will be published for the Ryersonian...hopefully.

Samantha:  So why are you here today?

Paul Rosen:  For me it’s really important to get my message out to as many people as possible and especially as many kids as possible.  The university setting is one of the best settings to show people that anything is possible and that you can achieve greatness at any level and at any age.  We’re a year out of the Olympics, probably the greatest Olympics and Paralympics of all time in our country, and I just want to thank people for coming out and supporting us for what was a great games. 

Samantha:  So how long have you been competing for Canada?

Paul Rosen:  I competed since 2000.  Three Olympics.  In 2002 in Salt Lake, 2006, in Torino and 2010 in Vancouver. 

Samantha:  So how was it competing at home?  

Paul Rosen:  It was the ultimate.  Unfortunately we didn’t win. That would have made it incredible.  But to have family and friends, and to have (all of that) support.  You know you play in Torino, you play in different parts of Europe, at the rink everybody loves you.  On the street you get a hello.  But in Vancouver, we were rock stars everywhere we went.  It didn’t matter where it was.  Everybody knew us, everybody screamed for us.  

Samantha: So how did you get introduced to sledge-hockey?

Paul Rosen:  I lost my (right) leg in 1999 due to infection.  I met a 12-year-old boy who showed me the game.  He was missing three of the four limbs, and he introduced me to the incredible athletes we have in this country who are disabled.  And that, I started playing and made the team at the age of 40.  

Samantha :  So what are the differences between sledge-hockey and regular hockey?

Paul Rosen:   Sledge-hockey is an incredible game.  The only difference from able-body hockey is we’re playing on sleds, not skates.  We skate with our arms.  Other than that, it’s pretty much the same game. It’s an incredible game and a high-paced, dangerous game.  It’s what I loved about it.  It gives somebody whose disabled an opportunity to play something they love at the highest level.  

Samantha:  So what was the best moment in your career?

Paul Rosen:  2006 in Torino.  We won the gold medal. It was the greatest thrill because we went into the games with no chance to win.  Everybody gave us the silver pretty well before the gold medal game.  We pulled together as a team and as a family to win the gold medal (against Norway, who was slated to win).   (There were) 75,000 people at Closing Ceremonies (and) knowing that everybody there wanted to grab you or shake your hand…it was something I’ll never forget. 

Samantha:  The Olympics seem to get more attention than the Paralympics do. How do you feel about that?

Paul Rosen:  It doesn’t bother me because the Olympics have been going on since the 30s and the Paralympics since the 60s.  Sledgehockey started in ’94.  If you look at where sledge-hockey is now in 2011 compared to where it was in 94, its massive.  You come back in 2018, it will be a game played all over the world, will have tons of teams in Canada, might even have a professional league.  So you gotta crawl, then you walk and then you run.  That’s how it works.  SO the Paralympics are incredible right now compared to when they started.  How many people knew about the Paralympics now? When I lost my leg in '99 I had no clue! Thirty-nine years I was able-bodied. Twelve years I’ve been disabled. 

Samantha:  So what message do you want to get across through your speeches?

Paul Rosen:  The biggest thing I want anybody who is disabled is to realize and to see the ability in disability.  I don’t want them to see the fact that they’re disabled. I want them to see that they’re able-bodied.  Just because you’re disabled, doesn’t mean you’re dead.  Doesn’t mean your life ends.  My life began when I became disabled.  I want the able-bodied community to look at somebody who’s disabled and look at them for what they can do, not what they can’t do. 

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