Canadian Paralympic athletics star Nate Riech made history when he won gold in the 1500 meter T38 at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in August. This was a momentous occasion for Canada, as it marked the first time in four consecutive Games that Canadian Paralympics went home with a medal. Most Canadian athletes rely on CAN Fund to be able to afford adequate nutrition, better equipment, training, equipment fees, additional physical therapy and trips to training camps and competitions. Unfortunately, according to Forbes, the winners of Olympic winter medals in other countries earn more for finishing on the podium than their Canadian counterparts.
In order to bridge this gap, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) introduced the Athlete Excellence Fund (AEF) in 1997. This program offers Canadian athletes rewards for their performance and is funded entirely by the COC. The CAN Fund also offers two applications a year to which summer, winter, healthy and Paralympic athletes representing Canada on the world stage can apply. The prizes are the same whether the athlete is from a team sport or an individual sport. In Canada, they are paid through the Canadian Olympic Committee's Athlete Excellence Fund.
O'Neill said the next steps include involving their stakeholders, sponsors and all Canadians to take a step forward and begin funding Paralympic athletes at the same level that the country supports Olympic athletes. The Tokyo Paralympic Games have been an incredible success for Canada, and it is hoped that this will be the last cycle of Games that Canadian Paralympics go empty-handed. With adequate funding and support from sponsors and stakeholders, Canadian athletes can continue to make history and bring home more medals in future Games.