Peter Won made his debut on the Canada Wheelchair Basketball team this year, and was pleased with his experience at the 2015 Toronto Parapan American Games.
His team placed second overall in the event, and will now be heading to Rio de Janeiro next year to compete in the Olympics. Won was born in Seoul, South Korea but has spent time residing in Blackfalds. Currently he is looking forward to the move to Toronto to prepare for the journey to Brazil.
“It was my first year on the national team and to play with them in front of those crowds is amazing. We’ve done what we needed to do for our placing, so we’re going to Rio de Janeiro next year,” Won said.
“Playing in front of such big crowds was different. There were probably 4,000 people in the gym and it’s just great.”
Team Canada lost to Team Brazil in the semi-finals, but Won said that he and his teammates played a great game. He was proud of his team, and is looking forward to the next stint of his journey to becoming an Olympic champion.
“The semi-final game against Brazil was interesting. We had to be in the top two to go to Rio next year, and all of us played amazingly in that game. We beat Brazil by quite a few points and it was pretty cool,” Won recalled, saying it was an impactful game.
“My ultimate goal is to win gold in the Paralympics, so being on this team is another stepping stone. I trained with the team before I was technically on it, so I kind of made steps towards actually being a part of it,” he said.
“You have to be at a certain skill level to train with the national team. I went to university in the U.S., because there are college leagues for wheelchair basketball. I played there for a little bit, and our team actually had a Canadian coach so that kind of helped me connect with the national team.”
Prior to the PanAm Games, Won travelled with his team to Germany to train against the national team there. He said that experience was exciting and it helped the guys prepare mentally and physically for their Toronto PanAm Games experience.
Although this was his first year with the team, Won has trained with them prior and is looking forward to continuing to develop the team over the next year.
“Most of us are going to Toronto to train together basically every day until we leave for Rio. It’s a lot of grind work but we’re going to do what we need to. I’m going back to Toronto at the end of the month, and I’ll be living there until the Rio Paralympics,” he explained.
“I’ve got to work on not eating too much pizza!” he laughed.
“But seriously, I’ve got to work on my technique and the rest of my skills. We do have a sports psychologist to help us with the mental side of training and she talks to us about preparation, routines and things like that.”
In 2014, Won received his invite to try out for the team. This year alone his skills have improved, granting him and his teammates second place overall at the Parapan American Games, second place at the Americas Challenge in Toronto and fourth place at the Lakeshore Cup in Burmingham, U.S.A.
Won said he looks forward to continuing to develop his skills and to improve as an athlete. Ultimately, he wants to be a Paralymic medallist and is training to reach that level.