Considered one of Canada’s super athletes and a world champion in the sport of curling, Sonja Gaudet may be one of the most competitive people in a wheelchair you’ll ever meet. A wife, a mother and a Paralympic gold medalist, her injury has only fueled her desire to be active.
But she wasn’t this way right away. After meeting with Rick Hansen, another SCI superstar we’ve profiled who hails from Canada, she was able to fully understand what it meant to still be able to do everything she used to, but just a little bit differently. And that was when this born and bred athlete was ready to take on adaptive sports.
Read on for the awesome story of reclaiming oneself in the eyes of Sonja Gaudet.
Why she’s fearless
It was a freak horse accident that changed Sonja’s entire life. Living in Vernon, British Columbia, Sonja loved having horses, and she and her husband rode often. But while returning home from a solo trail ride one day in 1997, Sonja’s horse decided to start bucking, and after bucking forcefully, the horse fell over landing on Sonya, and dislocating her T6 vertebrae in the process.
Sonja’s however didn’t dwell on her injury and what it took from her for too long. Before her injury through life was all about athletics – softball and volleyball growing up – and after she was married her husband competed in a lot of different athletic pursuits. The competitive spirit was just within her, so no one was surprised when Sonja decided to try all the different adapted sports that were available to her.
She tried wheelchair basketball, monoskiing, wheelchair racing and many others, but the sport that stuck was wheelchair curling. At first she only tried it out as a way to have fun with family and friends, but soon realized she had a talent for it. After creating a bar that’s attached to her chair that she can lean into when throwing the stone, her game got even better. So good in fact that it got the attention of the head of the Canadian Paralympic curling team.
Before she knew it, she was on the team and headed to her first Paralympics – the Torino winter games in 2006 – and the Canadian team won gold, making her love the for even more (if that was even possible). She returned to the winter Paralympics in 2010 when they were in Vancouver, winning gold in curling as a member of the Canadian curling team once again.
Considering the fact that her children were quite young when her injury occurred, I can only imagine how proud they must have been to see their mom win these amazing accolades in her sport.
At 48 years old with her kids now teenagers, Sonja is still at the top of her game. She was even named the flag bearer for the Canadian Paralympic team at the Sochi winter Paralympic games, which are currently underway.
Being an athlete is only one part of who Sonja is however. She’s an ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation, helping newly injured people figure out their way in life, and she’s also become a public speaker, sharing her story and how there is life after disability.
Good luck in Sochi, Sonja (Canada is currently in 1st place at Sochi)! And we thank you so much for doing so much good in the spinal cord injury community. Your spirit is stronger than any able-bodied athlete around.
– Visit her site: Sonja Gaudet
Have you heard Sonja speak?
Watch the videos