My friend Donovan Tildesley just got back from winning a bronze medal in Beijing! We met through a mutual friend and then became good friends later during a Children’s Lit course in the Summer of 2005 at UBC (we both graduated with degrees in English Literature). I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly today about his experience in the Paralympic Games for 2008. Donovan was the official flag bearer for Canada this year, which he told me was better than any medals he has ever won and that walking into the crowded stadium was thrilling. On September 6, he led all 143 members of the Canadian Paralympic team into the Beijing National Stadium (or Bird’s Nest) for the Opening Ceremony of his last Paralympic Games. He will not compete again, as he has decided it is time for him to focus on a career.
Just for the record he has won medals in every one of the last three Summer Paralympic Games. This year in Beijing he came third for the Men’s 400m Freestyle-S11, in Athens in 2004 he came second twice (Men’s 400m Freestyle and 200m Individual Medley) and third once (Men’s 100m Freestyle), and in Sydney in 2000 he came third in the 200m Individual Medley. Last year in Rio for the ParaPanAmerican, he came first in every race he swam (Men’s 50m, 100m, and 400m Freestyle; 100m Butterfly; 200m Individual Medley). For those who failed kindergarten that is an impressive 5 Paralympic Medals and 5 ParaPanAmerican Medals!
Donovan is considered one of the country’s best Paralympic long-distance swimmer, supported by the fact that he holds the world record in the Men’s 800m and 1500m freestyle for the S11 category (S11 is the category for swimmers who are totally blind).
I am so proud of you Donovan! Thanks for representing us so well to the rest of the world!