Kevin Rempel’s bronze medal from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games sat on display at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence in Etobicoke as the sledge hockey demonstration got underway for the Invictus Games on Friday.
As part of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee, and having recently transitioned from player to advocate, Kevin led two members from each of the 17 nations participating in the Games in a demonstration of the sport.
“My main goal now that I’m retired is to grow the sport,” Kevin said. “If we can get more people involved, whether they’re able-bodied or people with disabilities, in an opportunity like this, where most have not been exposed to the sport — that’s what it was all about, letting people know more.”
Paralyzed in 2006 after a motocross crash, Kevin used sledge hockey to help in his rehabilitation. The 2013 World Champion and 2014 Sochi Paralympic bronze medallist hoped to introduce Invictus Games fans to what the sport is all about.
Last year, it was anticipated that sledge hockey, officially referred to as para-ice hockey, would be a medal sport at the 2017 Invictus Games. However, even though the Games took place in Canada, most participating nations were not familiar enough with the sport to compose a team.
Kevin hopes that one day it will be a medal sport at the Games, making it the first time a winter sport is introduced. Until then, however, there were plenty of memories made on the ice, as the match ended in a 3–3 tie, and Team Afghanistan experienced ice for the very first time.