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Sights on New Horizons

Photo Credit: Kim Lawton

Author: BC Winter Games/Saturday, February 27, 2016/Categories: 2016 BC Winter Games, Archery

Sights on New Horizons

Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games archery coach Kevin Evans knows a thing or two about turning tragedy into triumph, and he's passed that insight on to his athletes. 

After a life-altering industrial accident in 2000, Evans lost his left arm.

Being a recreational bow hunter before the accident provided him with the inspiration to rehabilitate and become a competitor.

In only two years he would become the national champion. He then won gold at the 2011 Parapan Am Games, went on to compete at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympics.

Now Evans is targeting the Rio 2016 Paralympics, but at these games his focus has been helping young athletes compete at the top of their game.

One athlete in particular is Rhys Leidal, a Cranbrook teen who is competing in archery for Zone 1, with a shoulder impediment he's had since birth. Evans saw Leidal develop an interest in his sport of choice at their local archery club, struggling to use both hands.

Evans used his knowledge on how to build a specially designed brace to help even the playing field for Leidal, who has competed through the weekend.

It is just one of many braces Evans has created to help people around the world to compete in archery, no matter their disability.

"I've been asked before if I could turn back the hands of time would I?" Evans said. 

"Knowing how many people I have helped and the experiences I have had, life just took me down a different path and I found something positive out of it."

Leidal is certainly grateful for Evans's help.

"My arm restricts my movement so I can't shoot a bow properly.  (Evans) made me a brace and it is the only way I can shoot and compete," said Leidel.

"I'm glad and thankful that I can still compete. (Evans) proves that just because you are an amputee or disabled it doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you like doing, or finding new things to have a passion about."

The Cranbrook athlete dreams of following in his mentor and coach's footsteps and one day compete on the international stage.

Stretching his right arm back explaining how much of a mental challenge the sport of archery is as much as it is a physical challenge, the BC Winter Games athlete grins.

"Archery means everything to me. When I am up there I can just let go," said Leidal.

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