By Mariana Echeverri Alvarez, Communications Coordinator

The journey to the Paris 2024 Paralympics is well underway for the Senior Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team. 

Last week, they kicked off their preparation with their first training camp held at Sport Manitoba, an event that marks a significant milestone for the team and community. 

We had the opportunity to speak with Head Coach Michele Sung, Manitoba athlete Bethany Johnson, and Sport Manitoba’s Performance Manager, Jeff Wood, about their experiences and preparations for the upcoming Games.


Head Coach Michele Sung: Balancing High Hopes and Strategic Preparations

For Head Coach Michele Sung, the training camp at Sport Manitoba was both a professional and personal highlight.

“It was really nice having the two courts side by side at the gym there and being able to do workouts, meetings, and [have] staff all in one building. It served the camp’s goals of kicking off the start of the summer really well,” she shared.

As the Paralympics draw closer, the focus sharpens. 

“We are right at the three-month mark here. Once we figure out who we are playing in our pool games, that’ll dictate mapping out a path to a medal. For us, the big picture is how much better we can get versus our overall ranking,” said Sung. 

The coach emphasized the importance of consistent high-level play and the significance of the training camp in achieving this goal.

Sung also highlighted the local impact of the camp. 

“We don’t have a large number of wheelchair athletes in Manitoba, so allowing youth athletes to see what the highest level looks like was super important. I hope it inspires more interest in the sport,” she added.


Bethany Johnson: Perfecting Skills and Eyeing Paris

Bethany Johnson, a dedicated national team athlete, expressed her appreciation for the facilities at Sport Manitoba. 

“We for sure liked the facility. Having the gym, performance centre, and a conference room for lunches was super convenient. The girls really enjoyed the bench pull in the performance centre,” she said.

Johnson has been diligently working on improving her shot. 

“While it’s still far from perfect, I think some pieces really pulled together last week,” she noted. 

Her excitement for the upcoming Paralympics is palpable. 

“It’s going to be great seeing everyone so frequently over the next couple of months, knowing everyone is training so consistently for Paris and seeing our progress at every camp,” Johnson enthused.

Balancing her athletic career with academics, Johnson shared her plans post-Paralympics. 

“I go to school at the University of Illinois and I’ll be heading straight back to school in the fall. I play for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini over the school year,” she mentioned.


Jeff Wood: Supporting Elite Training

Performance Manager Jeff Wood and the staff at Sport Manitoba Performance were there to support the athletes during their strength and conditioning program.

He said it was great to see them train, especially at this level.

“It’s pretty neat not only for our coaches, but also for our athletes to see them train and see them in their elements,” he remarked. 

Wood noted the intensity of the training sessions, which often intrigued spectators with their level of physicality and competitiveness.

The presence of national-level Para athletes at Sport Manitoba also had a broader impact. 

“We actually have a couple of Para athletes that we work with popping by to watch them train. It’s inspiring for them to see that the training isn’t all that different from what they do,” he added.

Check out this playlist from the Paralympic Games YouTube channel, giving you all you need to know about the sports featured in Paris this summer.