Greg Thompson - Paralympic Swimmer

1) What was your first exposure to sports? 

Greg Thompson (for Web).jpgAs a pre-schooler in the early 1970’s I was taught to swim by my father at our family cottage near Midland on Georgian Bay. When I started attending WRMS in the fall of 1973, I was introduced to what was then called gym class, and had further exposure to swimming in the school’s indoor pool. Had I not attended the school in Brantford, I would have missed out on many of these opportunities.
2) Why should sports be accessible to everyone?
Not only do sports provide us with good and necessary exercise, but introduced at an early age they provide children with soft skills which will serve them well in later life. Those skills include sportsmanship (meaning how to win and lose gracefully), the ability to push oneself to do one’s best, the value of competition, learning not to give up when things get tough, and finding out how to play as a team member. No one should be denied these opportunities, especially persons with disabilities, as I believe sports better equip us to deal with life’s challenges. Sometimes sports need to be modified to accommodate disabilities, but with a little thought and willingness to work together, these obstacles can usually be overcome.
3) What is your favourite Paralympic memory?
Undoubtedly mine is standing on the podium on a warm June night in 1984, and having a silver medal placed around my neck. I had just swam the best race of my life, the 100 metre backstroke, in which I exceeded my personal best by more than 3 seconds. The fact that my parents travelled to New York to watch me do it, made it all the more special. Even 33 years later, it is still one of my favourite memories, and most significant accomplishments. As a CNIB ambassador, I often share that particular memory with my audiences, not because I seek recognition, but as living proof that we can do virtually anything if we just set our hearts and minds to it.
4) What is it like to represent your country in the world stage?
In a few simple words, it is an honour, and a privilege. My powers of language cannot begin to describe the intense feelings of pride and accomplishment. Canada is where I live, and is also part of who I am, and being able to represent our country is something I’ll carry in my heart for the rest of my life.
5) Do you have any words of advice for our aspiring athletes?
Work hard, be guided by your coaches and supporters, push yourself until it hurts then push some more, don’t be afraid to live your dreams, and always do your best.
To learn more about the event, visit the Paralympian Search page.