female winner: Canada - Collette Bourgonje
Collette Bourgonje is one of the few athletes ever to win multiple medals in both Paralympic Summer and Winter Games. She started with two bronze medals for the 100m and 800m in wheelchair racing in the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, the same year she made her Winter Paralympic Game debut competing in cross country ski skiing at the Tignes-Alberville 1992 Paralympic Winter Games.
Collette continued to compete in both wheelchair racing and cross country skiing and went on to win two more bronze medals in wheelchair racing at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. It was her double silver medals in the 2.5km and 5km cross country ski events at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Winter Games, which launched her in the record books, as a repeat medalist in both the summer and winter Games.
In Salt Lake City, she finished fourth in the 2.5km, sixth in the 10km, and ninth in the 5km events. In Torino, she placed sixth in the 2.5km, and won bronze in the 5km and 10km events.
Collette has now competed in an incredible nine Paralympic Games, and is one of the elite athletes not only to have competed in both Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, but to also have earned multiple medals in set of Games, ten in total so far.
In 1984, Collette was the first wheelchair student to graduate from the Physical Education Department, University of Saskatchewan. She pursued her goal by studying further to acquire a teaching degree and worked as an elementary teacher. A proponent of healthy living for everyone, she is tireless in promoting physical activity, especially for children, rather than focusing entirely on elite sports. As an advocate of active living, she is an ambassador of "In Motion", Saskatchewan"s movement to increase physical activity. She says "I would tell someone if they want to get the most out of life and really start living, they should try to do something physical – even if it is just a 15 minute walk once a day. Your mind, body, and spirit are all enhanced when you exercise".
Collette also mentors up an new coming athletes particularly for those athletes that have just been newly injured. For instance, one of her visits in the hospital had major impact in peoples" lives. She says, "one of the girls I visited actually is now racing and received a bronze medal in Beijing Games. And the other one become a teacher. To me, in retrospect, it was a good visit. I am very pleased that being a role model for those girls worked out well"
male winner: Japan - Endo Takayuki
Endo was born without legs. He says that it is a great honour to be part of the Paralympic Games. But for me just coming here is not my ultimate dream. My greatest goal here is to show to the world the best of my abilities, to bring good results from my performance at this Games, and hope to bring some kind legacy to inspire the world and to promote understanding of disabled people and disability sports. According his peers, Endo always stays positive and works hard. He always challenges himself and willingly accepts any obstacles in his way. When not competing, he gives speeches and lectures at schools to share his experiences about removing the walls between the abled and the disabled. He wants that all people should be equal regardless of their challenges. An amazing tribute to his "never give up" attitude is when he climbed Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan. He is a firm believer on the phrase "if you try hard, your dreams will come true". He wants to spread the message "experience produces confidence, confidence provides the power to live".