Jon Thurston enjoyed his first Paralympic experience so much that he is already targeting Italy in 2026.
As the youngest member of the Canadian wheelchair curling team at 38, Thurston threw the fourth rocks in guiding them to a bronze medal with a dramatic victory over Slovakia at the Ice Cube venue in Beijing, China. , last Friday.
“It was just an amazing experience,” said Thurston, a Dunsford native and member of the Peterborough Curling Club.
“The Paralympic Village and being with other Canadian athletes and athletes from other countries has been a great experience. We had great accommodations and our venue was spectacular. The ice makers had learned a bit from our time in October (for the Worlds), so the ice was even better and they were able to handle it better. It was a pleasure to curl up. It was an exciting journey.
It was the fifth time in as many Paralympic Games that Canada has reached the podium in wheelchair curling.
Thurston and his teammates – veteran captain Mark Ideson, Ina Forrest, Dennis Thiessen and Collinda Joseph – bounced back from a 9-5 semi-final loss to China in the afternoon to edge ahead of Slovakia in the game for the bronze medal a few hours later.
Thurston, fourth Canadian, made a spectacular double takedown, light, just squeaked by the guard. The result left Canada sitting three, with Slovakia on their last shot.
Slovakian fourth Peter Zatko drew to the side of the four-footer, but failed to hide behind the guard. Thurston made no mistakes in the opener and Canada completed their quest for the podium with an 8-3 win.
“China played their best game and unfortunately we couldn’t get that victory, but there wasn’t much time between the semi-finals and the bronze medal game, so there was no not a lot of time to think,” Thurston said. “Me and Ina opted to go on the practice ice for a while and then it was our usual routine to start the game.
“We had our best game and we were very happy to win the bronze medal and bring home a medal for Canada.
“We were disappointed with the result of the semi-final, but we didn’t have a lot of time to turn back, so we didn’t have a lot of time to be down, we had to focus on what was going on. was waiting.”
With the Games taking place during a pandemic, athletes were confined to the Athletes’ Village and venues. Thurston said the curlers had a whole floor to themselves, so they spent a lot of time together and made the most of it.
“You don’t have family and friends traveling for help. There was a lot less media than there would be at other times. It was a completely closed bubble,” he said.
“From the experiences my teammates shared, it was definitely different not having that family and friends there for support, but the Canadian Paralympic Committee has done a really good job of including family and friends. friends in the journey and we had connections and communications to keep our family. and friends aware of what was going on every day.
He was delighted to be able to take part in the opening and closing ceremonies, which he described as spectacular.
“Coming out of the tunnel with all your fellow Canadian athletes and athletes from other countries is such a cool experience,” he said. “The closing ceremonies were also very cool. They had a neat and creative ceremony that was a joy to participate in.
He is already looking at 2026.
“We’ve had a very busy year, so I’m looking forward to some time,” Thurston said. “But once our next season kicks off, I look forward to working hard to represent Canada again in Milan and Cortina, Italy. This will be my goal in the future.