Paralympic medalist inspires young Muslims

Being persistent and striking a balance in your life can put you on the road to success in whatever you do.

That’s advice students at BC Muslim school in Richmond heard from Canadian Paralympian and local resident Walter Wu on a drizzly Wednesday morning.

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But even if the weather didn’t cooperate, Wu’s address to the Grade 6 and 7 classes left a sunny impression on the group assembled to listen to the multi-medal-winning swimmer.

To illustrate his message Wu brought along his haul of Paralympic swimming medals for the students to see and touch.

In total, Wu earned five gold medals at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, two more gold in a five-medal intake in Sydney in 2000, and achieved numerous world record performances, and was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame.

It’s an impressive accomplishment for the athlete who is partially blind, but one he attained thanks to plenty of support from his family, coaches and friends.

“I’m really proud, I had great coaches,” Wu told the students. “You guys probably have fantastic teachers. They want to help you get better, help you get smarter, help you do your math or your spelling. I had the coaches do the same thing.”

Wu’s visit was part of the RCMP’s Sports Event that brings high level athletes to local schools for a dose of inspiration, and then offers a chance for the youngsters to square off against members of the RCMP in a sports activity.
This time it was floor hockey in the school’s gym.

Wu added that school balanced with other activities is what they should strive to achieve.

“You always want a balance. School’s important. Good grades are important,” he said. “You want to be good at school? Fantastic. But you also need a second part to your life, as well. And it doesn’t even have to be sports. It could be in the arts.”

Wu said he had a well-roundedchildhood, taking part in a number of sports growing up, as well as music.

All the time, he had the support of his parents who never pushed him to compete.

“They never pressured me,” he said, “or said you have to be number one, you have to win medals. They didn’t know how far I was going to get, they just encouraged me."

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