Wheelchair star born with marathon victory

Published: June 5, 2006  |  Source: canada.com
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Shauna Jensen wheels to win in Las Vegas

EDMONTON – Before Shauna Jensen sustained a spinal cord injury, she considered herself a recreational athlete and called herself a weekend warrior.

Add another W to that handle — for winner. Jensen wheeled to a first-place finish Saturday in the women’s wheelchair division of the Salt Lake City Marathon.

The Edmonton woman had a time of two hours, 11 minutes.

“This was my first marathon — and there will be more,” Jensen said Monday.

The 36-year-old uses a handcycle wheelchair. Rather than wheeling herself with a push rim, Jensen uses her arms to pedal an apparatus to propel herself.

“You’re sitting more recumbent because your legs are in front of you rather than tucked under you,” Jensen said. “You also have gears you can shift, and that was good for getting up the hills here.”

She got the handcycle last year and started training during the winter at the University of Alberta campus.

Jensen has rollers where she puts her handcycle on for training.

After the snow melted, she trained five days a week, cycling from her downtown apartment to her parents’ home in Sherwood Park.

“The thing about the handcycle is it is recreational. I take it down on the trails by the river. It’s great,” says Jensen.

She broke her back while riding a dirt bike in northern Alberta in the summer of 2002.

“A big bee hit my face and I took my hand off the handlebar,” she says. “I didn’t see the hill in front of me and I dove into it.”

Before her injury she couldn’t ever see herself competing in a marathon.

“I’ve had so many opportunities to do so many amazing things since my injury,” she says. “There’s no chance I would have been in a marathon before my injury.”

Jensen will take a bit of a break and then start training for her next marathon in Las Vegas.

– Local triathlete Paul Tichelaar won gold on the weekend at the ITU Pan American Championships in Brasilia, Brazil.

Tichelaar said several top American athletes as well as Canadian star Simon Whitfield weren’t at the event.

“The start was rough as expected,” Tichelaar said. “I was bumped around for the first 100 metres before managing to get ahead of the people around me.”

By the time he started the bicycle leg, he was ahead by 500 metres. “I had an amazing day. I was capable physically, I was smart about how I used my energy, and I was able to push myself when I needed to,” Tichelaar said.

– U of A student Luke Campbell wants to see Oilers fans celebrate victories, rather than the mayhem which has occurred on Whyte Avenue. So Campbell is doing something else; he is contributing $25 for each Oilers win to the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

“This allows people a way to celebrate the Oilers’ wins by supporting the Stollery,” Campbell said in a press release.

If you want to join his Win for Edmonton initiative, call 433-5437.

– The Kinsmen Fieldhouse will be home to the Stag 2006 Canadian Junior open starting Thursday.

The table tennis event is part of a world circuit with teams from China, Japan, India, the Czech Republic, Qatar, Egypt and United States. The event runs through the weekend.

Cam Tait
The Edmonton Journal