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Wheelchair racing and the weather

Shelley Steeves, reporter
June 8, 2012 — Two wheelchair racers in New Brunswick are busy successfully overcoming all kinds of obstacles and weather conditions.

James Brace and Veronica Coombes are wheelchair athletes
James Brace and Veronica Coombes are wheelchair athletes

On your marks, get set, go!

James Brace and Veronica Coombes are on a mission to become the best wheelchair athletes this country has ever seen!

They'll face some fierce competitors,ncluding the weather.

"Yes it can be an opponent, especially on the wheelchair side of things," says Gabriel LeBlanc, a New Brunswick Para-Athletic coach. 
"I won't have enough grip on my chair and whenever I push it's gona slide," explains Veronica. 

James adds, "Contact is just not great, the friction is not good and it can throw us way off."

But these two have learned to overcome obstacles, rain or shine. And not just on the track.

"Before my accident I was a hockey player right up to the major junior league and yeah," says James. "Six years ago I had an accident that put me in a chair and now I am racing."

"My brothers were always out and playing soccer, running and throwing and they were doing all this stuff and I tried it and stayed in it for three and a half years and I am still going," Veronica says. 

Going is an understatement....she's flying! 

Gabriel LeBlanc coaches the athletes
Gabriel LeBlanc coaches the athletes

"She is our provincial record holder in the 100, 200 and 400," LeBlanc says. 

Even though they both admit racing into a head wind at times feels like torture. 

"I just push as hard as I can and put as much force as I can into the gloves," Veronica explains. 

Neither one of them know the meaning of the word quit. After only a year and a half on the track, James is already the fastest racer in the province's history!

"Everybody has their role in life. I may have found it," he says. 

He'll be off to the nationals soon, and no doubt Veronica won't be far behind. They hope the wind will be at their backs.

"These two like the speed. They have a need for speed," LeBlanc says. 

But some things are still more important than winning. The ultimate goal...

"To try to get more people more people involved or that have CP or have disability or anything like that," James notes. 

Because these two are proof that, in life, no one has to sit on the sidelines.

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