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Todd Nicholson 2017 Canadian Disability Hall of Fame Inductee

Todd Nicholson’s achievements in sport have been outstanding, both on and off the ice. As a para-athlete, he enjoyed a brilliant career with Canada’s National Para-Ice Hockey Team, highlighted by five Paralympic Games appearances and three Paralympic medals. Nicholson won gold in Torino in 2006, silver in Nagano in 1998 and bronze in Lillehammer in 1994. He also won eight medals at World Championships. For 15 years, he captained the team, honing his skills as a leader. Once ranked among the world’s top six players in the sport, he was extremely versatile, able to play any position on the ice. On two occasions – in 1998 and 2002 – he was named to the Paralympic All-Star Team.

In addition to para-ice hockey, Nicholson participated in a number of other sports at the National or International level, including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, triathlon, duathlon, marathons and para-skeleton.

In honour of his accomplishments, he was selected to be Canada’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony of the Torino 2006 Paralympic Games.

Nicholson’s introduction to Paralympic sports occurred in 1987 at the Royal Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre, where he was recuperating after a car accident that had left him a paraplegic. The accident took place as he was returning home on the night of his high school prom.

In 2010, following the Vancouver Paralympic Games, Nicholson retired from para-ice hockey competition – but not from his commitment to sport and the Paralympic movement. He has continued to stay involved in sport as a volunteer, coaching at both local and National levels.

In connection with the Paralympic movement, he advocates for Paralympic athletes from 2013 to 2017 in his role as chair of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes’ Council and as a member of the Governing Board for the International Paralympic Committee. He also contributed as the IPC Athlete representative to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and as a Paralympic Games Committee representative.

At a time when the Paralympic movement was experiencing exponential growth and development, Nicholson worked tirelessly to ensure the athletes’ concerns were represented and that their perspective on issues resonated throughout the organizations.

Reflecting on his induction into the Disability Hall of Fame, Nicholson said, “It really hits home… it’s pretty special,” adding he credits the people around him for making it possible for him to pursue his goals.

“I haven’t done anything on my own. I’ve always had tons of support to help me achieve some of those dreams that I set for myself as a kid.”

In January 2017, Nicholson’s efforts and contributions were recognized yet again when he was named Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. He says that while his previous role advocating at the International level for Paralympic athletes was rewarding, he’s “very excited to be able to put my Team Canada hat back on and support our Canadian athletes.”

Looking further ahead, Nicholson has his sights set on perhaps his biggest dream – that of developing an ambitious new recreational complex in his hometown of Ottawa, Modelled after the hugely successful Abilities Centre Durham, the proposed Abilities Centre Ottawa would offer sports, fitness, arts, life skills, research and educational opportunities. Nicholson is a board of the organization seeking to build the Ottawa facility, and he’s also a board member of Abilities Centre Durham.

In 2014, Nicholson was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his athletic accomplishments as well as his volunteer efforts to increase the participation and inclusion of all people in the recreational and cultural lives of their communities.

Other prestigious honours he has received include the Queen’s Golden and Silver Jubilee medals, the Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.) from the Governor General of Canada and the Athletes Can Leadership Award.

Nicholson also seeks to contribute through community-level public speaking at schools, hospitals and businesses. A dedicated role model for children – and all Canadians – he shares a powerful message of “Never give up on your dreams.”