U of M alumnus heading to London

Winnipegger and University of Manitoba alumnus Meghan Montgomery is currently on her way to London, England for the 2012 Paralympic Games in the Mixed Coxed Four, Leg, Trunk, and Arms (4+ Mixed LTA) adaptive rowing event.

Montgomery got her start rowing at the University of Manitoba’s campus during Orientation Week in her second year of study. At the time Montgomery was working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree, which she would finish along with her Bachelor of Education a few years later.

“I had played basketball and water polo after high school,” Montgomery told the Gradzette, “but I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to [ . . . ] I went to an information session, went out on the water a couple of times in the fall, and the rest is kind of history.”

Joining the Manitoba Provincial Rowing Team in 2001, Montgomery began racing in her first “high performance” events shortly after. The U of M alum continued to train up until 2005 when she found out through the Winnipeg Rowing Club that rowing was going to be part of the Paralympic Games for the first time. Montgomery realized then that she was about to take her rowing abilities to the international level. After preparing for three years she represented Canada in the rowing portion of the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. This would not, however, be Montgomery’s last time in the international spotlight. In 2010 at the World Championships, Montgomery took home a gold medal, setting a new world record in adaptive rowing, and is now getting ready for her second Paralympics.

“We’ve had some really solid training in the last few weeks and we’re definitely feeling more race ready,” said Montgomery when asked how her and her team were feeling for the upcoming Paralympic Games. “We want the ‘A’ final, and obviously we want the podium. That’s what we’ve been working for.”

Montgomery said that even though she and her team had had somewhat disappointing results over the last several months, she believes that their time together over the last few weeks training as a team will give them the strength and focus they need to perform their best.

Montgomery’s team is composed of four individuals, two male and two female. All members of the team are impaired by disabilities that do not limit the use of their legs, trunk (or “core”) or arms. Montgomery herself has a congenital disability on her right hand having only her thumb and two smaller digits. Within the Paralympic Games their team only competes against other teams of mixed fours that fall within the same disability category, having use of the legs, trunk, and arms.

Though Montgomery and all the other Canadian athletes are excited to be going to the Paralympic Games, Montgomery says there is a disappointing side to the event.

“I definitely think [the Paralympic Games] are overshadowed by the Olympics in the public’s eye. A lot of people, especially the media focus on the Olympics while the Paralympics get almost no attention at all,” said Montgomery. “Everyone deserves credit for their accomplishments, and that includes Paralympians.”

Montgomery also mentioned that certain local publications had left her out of articles highlighting “homegrown” athletes stating that her “feelings were hurt, as [she] was not even mentioned.”

While Montgomery has long since graduated from the University of Manitoba, she still remembers juggling her busy schedule.

“I remember the stress of university,” said Montgomery. “There was definitely a few times where I had to miss workouts to study.” Montgomery went on to say that on the other hand there were also times during her workouts when ideas and thoughts would just pop into her head, solving problems she was having with an assignment or class. She is also a strong believer that exercise is a key to stress relief, and well being.