Prince Albert product also helps Canada qualify for the 2020 Paralympics
From being a part of Canada’s gold medal winning side in wheelchair basketball at the 2019 Parapan American Games to starting her PhD studies in Paralympic Sports Science at Ontario Tech, the last week has been a whirlwind for Prince Albert’s Erica Gavel.
“To be honest, I haven’t slept too much over the last few days,” Gavel joked. “Between qualifying for next year’s Paralympics in Tokyo on Friday and then winning a gold medal 24 hours later, I can’t even describe what that feels like.
“Since I came home, it’s been overwhelming to see all of the messages I’ve received from people who are happy for our team and are excited for us to be going to Tokyo. It’s just now starting to sink for me and I’m so honoured to be a part of the experience.”
Gavel, who won a silver medal at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, added a gold medal to her trophy cabinet last Friday night in Lima, Peru with a 67-64 victory over the United States.
“We had lost our last four games to them heading into the tournament, but we just had a feeling that we weren’t going to lose to them in Peru,” Gavel said. “We had a lot of confidence, we were playing well and we were really gelling as a team.
“All of our hard work paid off in the final. We were down early but then were able to sink a three-pointer to tie things up a minute-and-a-half into the fourth quarter. That gave us some confidence and were able to play a solid final quarter to finish things off.”
A day earlier, Canada qualified for next year’s Paralympics with a 61-40 win over Brazil in the semifinal.
“Even though we won by over 20 points, we were tied with Brazil after the first half and led by seven points after the third quarter,” Gavel said. “It was not an easy game.
“Over the last year, our program has become a lot smarter when it comes to how we train and I think we saw the benefits of that as this was one of our best summers ever as a team in terms of our rate of improvement.”
With a spot at the Paralympics now assured, Gavel and the rest of Team Canada will reconvene for a training camp in October before they head over for tournaments in Japan in February.