Basketball. Gabriel Geiger continues to move closer to his dream: the dream of one day participating in the Paralympics.
Drummondville, 20, is one of 11 wheelchair basketball players selected for the Canadian Under-23 men’s team for the Americas District Qualifier Tournament. This competition will take place from January 7-16, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
“It was a surprise to me,” said Gabriel Geiger. I’ve attended quite a few camps, but I didn’t expect to get this call from my coach. I am really proud to be part of this team. I see it as an experience and an opportunity to move forward in my career.”
Suffering from spastic paraplegia, a genetic disease that forces him to use a wheelchair, Gabriel Geiger has been playing wheelchair basketball since the age of 12. After representing Center de Quebec at the Quebec Games in 2015, in Drummondville, and then Quebec at the Canadian Games in 2019, in Alberta, the youngster will defend his country’s colors for the first time in his career on the international stage.
“I love the unifying effect of basketball,” explained the young athlete, who in the past has played bobsleigh hockey, swimming as well as athletics. In team sports, a strong sense of belonging arises. It ensures you develop qualities such as a sense of responsibility, organization and teamwork.”
Having made his debut with the Vikings of Center-du-Québec, Gabriel Giguère was identified as a Category 3 athlete according to the Paralympic athletes classification system.
“I’m really a team player,” he said. I love to be with my teammates. I make sure everyone is satisfied. When it comes to basketball, my speed is my main strength.”
Of the 11 under-23 athletes selected by Wheelchair Basketball Canada, only two are from Quebec. Colin Lalonde, of Saint Clet, is the only other native player from La Belle County.
A week before his departure for Mexico, the Canadian team will meet in Toronto for a training camp. In Playa del Carmen, Canada will face Mexico, Brazil and the United States.
This tournament will qualify two teams for the Men’s Under-23 World Championship, which will run from May 27 to June 4, in Chiba, Japan. This competition will feature the top 12 countries from the four FIBA regions (Americas, Africa, Europe as well as Asia/Oceania).
In conclusion, Gabriel Geiger thanked his coaches, parents and employer. “My coach Christian La Serra has helped me a lot in my development. He will also be the assistant coach of the Canadian team, Daryl Nordel.
“Between my full time job at Hellrazr, my practices in Montreal and my competitions, my schedule is very busy, but my bosses encourage me in my career. Following in the footsteps of his friend Elodie Tessier, a member of the Canadian women’s team during the recent Tokyo Paralympic Games concluded,” They are there to help me instead of hurting me.”
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