We sometimes forget that excellence in sport is not just for the able bodied. Of course, there are the Olympics, there is the NHL and other goals that various athletes strive for.
But there are also many among us who due to the way they were born or perhaps because of unfortunate injury are simply not able to go for those goals. We are lucky to have one of those examples right here.
Jonathon Dieleman was a rompin’ stompin’ cowboy who was a top bare back horse and bull rider. Like many young men, he also liked to ride his dirt bike and to push it as hard as he could. Unfortunately, one day that drive ended up in an accident that broke his back and put him in a wheelchair.
Dieleman could have just sat in that chair but he wouldn’t. Simply put, it wasn’t and still isn’t his nature. One form of exercise he had enjoyed since he was a youngster was swimming in the local lakes, so he started to swim at the Bulkley Valley Regional Pool. A local coach noticed him one day and offered some assistance.
His swimming developed into more than just simple exercise and eventually led to training that carried him to Canadian and Pan American records and medals at the Para Pan American Games and a spot in the finals at the Paralympics.
He did not forget where it all began and generously donated his silver medal and some of his team gear to the pool for all to see.
Recently, pool manager Tamara Gillis showed that gift in a special case for public view. All can now easily see and be reminded of what determination and dedication can do, no matter what obstacles might arise.
Currently, Dieleman is a national team member and is in preparation for the trials for this summer’s World Championship. Long term, he hopes to be on the podium at the next Paralympic Games.
He is an example for all to follow and guide to anyone who might lose belief in themselves.