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Nova Scotia para-athlete Pam LeJean breaking boundaries, shot put records


METRO HALIFAX - taying “focused” has become an important part of para-athlete Pamela LeJean’s everyday life, on and off her field.

The 31-year-old Halifax resident proved that Wednesday evening at Huskies Stadium, where she won the women’s para-shot put event, throwing an impressive 4.48 metres at the 2016 Aileen Meagher International Track Classic.

Not only was it a personal best for LeJean, but she also broke her own North American record, which had been the 4.46 metres she threw three years ago, beating that June 22 at the annual Halifax event “by a shade.”

“To finally beat it, officially, is such a weight lifted,” LeJean said shortly after taking the strong shot, which brings her one step closer to joining Team Canada for the 2016 Summer Paralympics this September in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It’s an honour to have any type of record, of course,” she said. “But I’m so happy that I finally beat it.”

With the Aileen Meagher record-breaking throw counting as a qualifier, and a throw at an Arizona meet in late May likely serving as a qualifier, the chances of LeJean making it to Brazil for the big event are looking pretty bright.

“It’s absolutely a dream of mine to represent my country,” LeJean, originally from Sydney, said of what it would mean to her to be a part of the Canadian para-contingent at Rio 2016.

Throwing herself into sports has always been the LeJean’s way of finding mental and physical strength, as a rugby player and swimmer before a serious car crash at 17 years old, which injured her spinal cord and left her unable to walk, and after that life-altering event, as a wheelchair basketball player and star para-athlete on the track and field circuit.

“It makes it a lot easier to focus on something else,” LeJean said of the obstacles she often faces having to get around daily using her wheelchair, including blatant discrimnation.

“People make really back-handed comments, and I don’t look like I should be in a wheelchair – I look like I’ve got a hurt ankle or … I’m playing around,” she said.  “I actually get yelled at for parking in handicapped spots once a week, so that’s really trying, mentally.”

That’s why staying involved in athletics, also including other throwing events such as discus and javelin, help her break down boundaries -- and records.

“It’s a lot easier to focus on something else, that’s bigger than me,” LeJean said.

 “I’m a different person than I was before.”

Local highlights from 2016 Aileen Meagher International Track Classic:

•    Ben Brown of Berwick won first place in the men’s 100-metre wheelchair para-race at 16.12 seconds.

•    Ryan Shay of Yarmouth snagged second in the men’s 100-metre wheelchair para-race at 19.37 seconds.

•    Mike Tate of Antigonish claimed first place in the men’s 1500-metre race in 3 minutes and 48.20 seconds.

•    Jenna Martin-Evans of Bridgewater finished fourth in the women’s 400-metre race with a time of 54.09 seconds.

•    Halifast Athletics ‘A’ won the 4x100-metre mixed relay race in 53.83 seconds.

The 31-year-old Halifax resident proved that Wednesday evening at Huskies Stadium, where she won the women’s para-shot put event, throwing an impressive 4.48 metres at the 2016 Aileen Meagher International Track Classic.

Not only was it a personal best for LeJean, but she also broke her own North American record, which had been the 4.46 metres she threw three years ago, beating that June 22 at the annual Halifax event “by a shade.”

“To finally beat it, officially, is such a weight lifted,” LeJean said shortly after taking the strong shot, which brings her one step closer to joining Team Canada for the 2016 Summer Paralympics this September in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It’s an honour to have any type of record, of course,” she said. “But I’m so happy that I finally beat it.”

With the Aileen Meagher record-breaking throw counting as a qualifier, and a throw at an Arizona meet in late May likely serving as a qualifier, the chances of LeJean making it to Brazil for the big event are looking pretty bright.

“It’s absolutely a dream of mine to represent my country,” LeJean, originally from Sydney, said of what it would mean to her to be a part of the Canadian para-contingent at Rio 2016.

Throwing herself into sports has always been the LeJean’s way of finding mental and physical strength, as a rugby player and swimmer before a serious car crash at 17 years old, which injured her spinal cord and left her unable to walk, and after that life-altering event, as a wheelchair basketball player and star para-athlete on the track and field circuit.

“It makes it a lot easier to focus on something else,” LeJean said of the obstacles she often faces having to get around daily using her wheelchair, including blatant discrimnation.

“People make really back-handed comments, and I don’t look like I should be in a wheelchair – I look like I’ve got a hurt ankle or … I’m playing around,” she said.  “I actually get yelled at for parking in handicapped spots once a week, so that’s really trying, mentally.”

That’s why staying involved in athletics, also including other throwing events such as discus and javelin, help her break down boundaries -- and records.

“It’s a lot easier to focus on something else, that’s bigger than me,” LeJean said.

 “I’m a different person than I was before.”

Local highlights from 2016 Aileen Meagher International Track Classic:

•    Ben Brown of Berwick won first place in the men’s 100-metre wheelchair para-race at 16.12 seconds.

•    Ryan Shay of Yarmouth snagged second in the men’s 100-metre wheelchair para-race at 19.37 seconds.

•    Mike Tate of Antigonish claimed first place in the men’s 1500-metre race in 3 minutes and 48.20 seconds.

•    Jenna Martin-Evans of Bridgewater finished fourth in the women’s 400-metre race with a time of 54.09 seconds.

•    Halifast Athletics ‘A’ won the 4x100-metre mixed relay race in 53.83 seconds.

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