A lucky backhoe and a lot of hard work
Some athletes wear a lucky number, others carry a good luck charm. Pamela LeJean has a lucky backhoe, and it travels with her to training camps and competitions around the world. “My coach and I found this little yellow toy backhoe while we were outdoors training last year and named it our lucky backhoe.” said Pamela.
Strange? Maybe. But it seems to be working.
Just eight months after her introduction to throwing – shot put, discus and javelin – Pamela won bronze for Canada at her first World Championship in Lyon, France. That was July 2013. The next month, she brought home two medals – gold and silver – at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, QC.
Pamela, a Sydney, Cape Breton native who now calls Halifax home, was paralyzed following a car accident over a decade ago. It was her wheelchair basketball coach who noticed her “albatross-like wingspan” and recommended she try throwing. “I switched that day and it was the best decision of my life.”
Pamela’s demanding scheduling leading up to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro included eight training sessions per week and lots of travel with a dedicated coach. In addition, Pamela’s throwing chair needed modifications and updates. Funding through Support4Sport helped cover a portion of these costs. Pamela and her coach competed and trained in Georgia, Dubai, Czech Republic and across Canada. “I’m grateful to be able to [have] put some of this grant money towards gaining the necessary experience to compete in Rio,” said Pamela.
Pamela’s high school rugby coach, Chris Nicholson, says it’s her positive attitude and her stick-to-itiveness that set her apart as an athlete, a coach and a person. “Ultimately, whenever you are with Pam, you know there is a belief that not only ‘she can’ but also ‘you can’ and as a result ‘we can,’” said Chris. “There is no notion of the word can’t.”
As for Pamela, she put in the time to make her Paralympic dreams come true. You can bet the little yellow backhoe was there, too.