Bowden shooting for gold at Paralympic Games

Orton native Brad Bowden has amassed an impressive collection of accolades, medals, and rings over the last decade, but that does not mean he’s become complacent.

In fact, his absolute hatred of losing has him as motivated as ever to capture his second gold medal in sledge hockey this month at the Paralympic Games in Vancouver.

Widely regarded as one of the best sledge hockey players in the world, Bowden said the goal is simple.

“Play five of the best games of our lives,” the 26-year-old told the Advertiser from Barrie, where he now lives with his girlfriend.

Canada’s sledge hockey team has gone through a few changes since capturing gold in Turin four years ago, but Bow­den says the core group re­mains relatively the same.

“Everybody knows what they need to do,” he said of the respective roles for the team’s 15 players, who departed for Calgary on Feb. 27 to prepare for the Games.

Canada opens the tournament on March 13 against Italy before meeting Sweden the next day, and Norway on March 16.

The semi-finals are set for March 18 and the gold medal game, in which Bowden expects Canada to be playing, is on March 20.

But defending the title of  Paralympic Champions will not be easy.

As always, Bowden expects the Norwegians and Americans to provide some tough competition, and he noted teams like Sweden and the Czech Re­pub­lic could surprise some people.

And while the Canadians are the defending champions, a third place finish in the 2009 Sledge Hockey World Champi­onship is still on Bowden’s mind.

“We’ve learned from our losses,” he said, adding he’s actually glad the setback occur­r­ed when it did. “It kind of lit a fire under our asses.”

While he does not enjoy playing the Americans, Bow­den says he now approaches each game the same way and the team does not take anything lightly, regardless of the opponent.

“I want to play every team like they’re faceless,” he said, adding that’s not meant to disrespect anyone.

Bowden expects the popularity of sledge hockey to grow following the Vancouver Para­lympics, as it did after the Games in Turin four years ago.

The only Paralympic athlete ever to win a gold medal at both the summer (wheelchair basketball) and the Winter Games, Bowden started playing sledge hockey at age 11. Just five years later, in 1999, he became a member of the men’s national team.

Since that time he has won three Sledge Hockey World Championships (2000, 2004, 2008) and one Paralympic gold medal (2006). When asked who has had the biggest influence on his athletic career, Bow­den says he has always looked up to past NHLers like Steve Yzerman and Bobby Orr.  ?

He added his teammates, in­cluding veterans like Hervé Lord and team captain Jean Labonté, have always pushed him to be a better player.

And recently, while he said he would have preferred to focus on his own Games, Bowden admits the performance of Canada’s hockey teams at the Olympics has allowed him to visualize his goals.

“Now it’s just time to perform the way we’re capable of performing,” he said.

For information on the sledge hockey team visit To track the team’s progress or for Para­lympic updates visit