Ryan Shay

I am a para-athlete who learned everything I needed to be hard working and dedicated in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where I grew up. I cultivated toughness at a young age by playing every sport I could, especially hockey.

It was during one of my years playing Jr. C hockey that I got into a car accident and sustained a C7/C8 level injury, leaving me a quadriplegic with limited hand function and no movement or sensation from the chest down. 

I was hospitalized for about almost three months and in rehab for another six. In my recovery I went through tons of tests (cat scans, bone density scans etc) so to kill time I worked out in the gym and practiced my wheelchair skills in the wheelchair skills lab.

After outgrowing the rehabilitation gym, my physiotherapist Sue Macleod and I tried out swimming, rowing, kayaking and wheelchair racing. Because I’ve always loved sports, when I met para-athletic sprinter Ben Brown he was very excited at my strength and potential. 

Then I met Ueli Albert, now my coach, who encouraged me to move forward with para-athletics. Since then I have continued in sport, and have become involved in public speaking to inspire others.

I went to Canada Games for wheelchair basketball but have mainly focused on a career in para-athletics, competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m distances as a T52 classified athlete. 

After I made the World Jr. Canadian team, I’ve had the privilege to represent compete in the US, England, and Switzerland for some of the world’s biggest meets. I launched myself from the second last position in my first year to seventeenth out of twenty seven in my second year, and plan to someday make it to the Paralympics and win a gold medal for Canada. 

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to just try one more time” -Thomas Edison