One of this year’s inductees to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame has a local connection.
Duncan Campbell was inducted as a builder in Wheelchair Rugby. Duncan is the son of Mary Campbell and the Nephew of John Mckenzie of Drumheller. Mary lived in Drumheller during the war years, married an RCAF pilot, and settled in Winnipeg.
“He has a very neat story,” said Mckenzie, of his nephew who now resides in Vancouver.
Campbell grew up in Winnipeg and when he was 17 became a quadriplegic after a diving accident. While doctors told him he would never live independently again, he was determined and began working out at a local gym with others with physical disabilities.
According to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame website, one day in 1976, he and his group that worked out together began tossing a volleyball around and crashing into each other with their wheelchairs. This was the birth of wheelchair rugby, although, in the beginning, they called it murderball.
Since then, Campbell became an avid player and worked to create modern wheelchair rugby, now one of the most popular para-sport in the world.
It debuted as a demonstration sport at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta and achieved full recognition in 2000. Duncan at the time was the High Performance Manager for Team Canada.
“I am so very proud of how far this Canadian made game has come from its humble beginnings in 1977,” he said. “It has been fantastic to experience this development from the start until now.”
Today more than 30 international teams compete. Canada won the World Championship in 2002 and claimed silver at the 2004 and 2012 Paralympic Games.
Campbell currently sits on the Development Committee of the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation and has served as the National Development Director for the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association.
In 2004, the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby National Championship trophy was renamed the Campbell Cup in his honour, and in 2013 he was awarded the International Paralympic Order, the most prestigious award in para-sports.