(Toronto, Ont.) As the world prepares to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, Toyota Canada is welcoming ten inspirational Canadian athletes to ‘Team Toyota’.
Wheelchair basketball athletes Cindy Ouellet and Nik Goncin are among those named to the team.
“We’re excited to welcome ten exceptional Canadian athletes to Team Toyota, and we’re proud to be supporting them on each of their individual journeys,” said Cyril Dimitris, Vice President, Toyota Canada Inc. “Each of these inspirational athletes has overcome barriers to achieve performance excellence at the highest level, and we hope that sharing their stories will inspire other Canadians to conquer their own challenges.”
Prior to the 2018 Paralympic and Olympic Winter Games, Toyota created “Start Your Impossible”, a global campaign sharing the stories of inspirational athletes from around the world.
“Reaching the Paralympic and Olympic level of competition is a long, hard journey for every athlete, and it’s only possible through the support of friends and family, plus the contributions of organizations such as Toyota Canada,” said Benoît Huot, a recently retired Canadian Paralympic swimmer and Team Toyota athlete. “On behalf of all the Team Toyota athletes, we’re grateful for this important support as we prepare to represent Canada on the world stage.”
The Canadian athletes joining Team Toyota are:
Melissa Bishop (Athletics – 800m)
Melissa Bishop has battled injury time and again, only to return stronger than ever. Leading up to 2020, she faces her biggest hurdle yet – getting back to the best running shape of her life after recently giving birth to her daughter. Few female athletes have successfully come back from pregnancy to return to their pre-motherhood success. Melissa is looking to change all of that. “I want to knock the socks off people,” she says. Along the way, she hopes her comeback story will inspire other moms and moms-to-be.A two-time Olympian, Melissa competed in London (2012) and in Rio (2016). She’s also won medals at the international level, including a gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto (2015) and silver at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing (2015).
Ellie Black (Artistic Gymnastics)
At 23, Ellie Black is at the top of her game, in a sport traditionally dominated by gymnasts in their teens. As she says herself, “It’s just amazing what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it — and what the human body is capable of.” The two-time Olympian is aiming for more glory at the 2020 Games. When she’s not training, Ellie is working on behalf of organizations like Fast and Female, encouraging young women to use the power of sport to realize their full potential. Ellie competed in London (2012) and recorded Canada’s best-ever Olympic performance in the sport in Rio (2016).
Cody Caldwell (Wheelchair Rugby)
Cody Caldwell’s story defines the power of sport to change lives and fulfill potential. A diving accident at the age of 20 left Cody a quadriplegic, and feeling, in his own words, “fragile, like a thin piece of glass”. A chance encounter with the sport of Wheelchair Rugby changed everything. In 2013, he became a member of the Paralympic team and never looked back. He was a member of the gold medal winning team at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto (2015) and competed at the Paralympics in Rio (2016).
Stefan Daniel (Paratriathlon)
Born with bilateral radial club hands, Stefan Daniel’s right arm is significantly shorter than his left. But that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the best triathletes in the world. At just 16, Stefan won the bronze at his first Paratriathlon World Championship. He followed that with silver in 2014, gold in 2015 and, at the age of 19 took home the silver medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Nik Goncin (Wheelchair Basketball)
Nik Goncin’s family moved to Canada as refugees from a civil war. As if learning a new language and adapting to a new culture were not challenge enough, Nik lost a leg to bone cancer in Grade 11. “Going from a very athletic young man, to severely skinny, disabled cancer patient was difficult,” he says. “The most influential part of my rehabilitation was sport.” In particular, wheelchair basketball. He made the national team in 2009, and has been an all-star ever since. Nik was named the sport’s Junior Athlete of the Year in 2014, and represented Canada at the 2016 Paralympic Games.
Benoît Huot (Para-Swimming)
Born with a clubfoot, and a passion for sport, Benoît Huot found his calling in the pool. Throughout his career, his energy and enthusiasm has made him an inspiration for those around him. Now retired from competition, Benoît is an ambassador for Paralympic sport. He mentors young athletes through his work for a number of charities. And, through his own foundation he raises funds and inspires children with disabilities to live their Paralympic dream.Benoît is one of Canada’s most decorated athletes, having won 20 medals – including nine golds – over five Paralympic Games, and another 32 medals in international competition.
Tory Nyhaug (BMX Cycling)
Overcoming many injuries, Tory Nyhaug ranks amongst his sports elite. This two-time Olympian – including a finalist in 2016 – is a Silver medalist at the World Championships and Gold medalist at the Pan Am Games. Now, he has sights on Olympic gold. In addition to injuries, Tory has also struggled with mental health at times. Because of these experiences, Tory is a passionate advocate for proper injury recovery and devotes time to helping people overcome mental health struggles.
Cindy Ouellet (Wheelchair Basketball and Para Nordic Skiing)
Cindy Ouellet’s journey is one of determination and a desire to enhance mobility for others. Diagnosed with bone cancer at 12, Cindy was given a five percent chance of survival. She beat the odds. She showed her determination again in high school, turning the pain of bullying into a positive life motto “Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day). Throughout her career she’s been a motivational force, inspiring and educating people on the power of sport. Cindy has been named athlete of the year within her sport four times. She’s a four-time Paralympian – three times at the Summer Games and most recently at the 2018 Winter Games.
Aurélie Rivard (Para-Swimming)
Born with an underdeveloped left hand, AurélieRivard has never let her impairment limit her potential. Panic attacks followed by severe bullying as a child led to struggles with self-confidence, devastating anxiety and depression. While still fighting these demons, her success in the pool combined with strong family support gives her the strength and confidence of a champion. As one of the world’s leading Paralympic athletes, she continues to shatter world records ahead of the Tokyo games while sharing her story with enthusiasm and confidence as a spokesperson for the Paralympic Movement and mental health. Aurélie is already a two-time Paralympian, winning three gold medals and a silver medal in Rio (2016), in addition to a silver in London (2012).
Erica Wiebe (Wrestling)
Erica knows what it is like to be at the top, and at the bottom. In her first year of wrestling at University, she did not score a single point in practice. Her drive to be the best seemed a lost dream. But her innate sense of resilience carried her through. In 2016, she captured Gold in Rio. She also won gold at two Commonwealth Games – in Australia (2018) and Glasgow (2014). Erica is passionate about the ability of sport to drive social change. And plays her part, working to break down gender barriers in sport, and encourage equal opportunities for all.
To learn more about Team Toyota and Toyota activities as the official mobility partner of the Olympics and Paralympics, please click here.
About Toyota Canada Inc.
Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Toyota has sold over eight million vehicles in Canada through a national network of 287 Toyota and Lexus dealerships. Toyota is dedicated to bringing safety, quality, dependability and reliability to the vehicles Canadians drive and the service they receive. TCI’s head office is located in Toronto, with regional offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Halifax, and parts distribution centres in Toronto and Vancouver. Toyota operates two manufacturing facilities in Canada. Having produced more than eight million vehicles, popular Canadian models built at these facilities include Toyota RAV4, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid. Recent investments at its facilities in Ontario will allow for increased production of the top-selling Toyota RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid models. For more information please visit toyota.ca.