(Ottawa, Ont.) For the first time in two decades, when Canada announces its roster for the 2014 Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team later this month, it will be without the services of one of the best outside shooters the game has ever seen. Canadian wheelchair basketball great Dave Durepos, of Fredericton, N.B., recently announced his retirement from the National Team program that through his nineteen-year career he helped grow into the premiere wheelchair basketball program in the world.
“I will cherish all my overwhelming experiences that I have had with all the players that have been part of Team Canada both on and off the court. The trials and tribulations that we have gone through as a family have made me a better person today. ??I would like to thank all the teammates that I have played with and the coaches I have played for; it has been quite a journey to say the least,” said Durepos.
In sport, as in life, timing can be everything. As was often the case during a tight match in which Canada needed a go-to-guy to hit the all important three-pointer to turn the game, time and time again Canada turned to the man who wore number four for almost his entire career. While it is abundantly apparent that his impeccable sense of rhythm and timing enabled him to serve his country and his teammates well on the court, those closest to him also know that no matter the context, Durepos is a guy who makes the most of his time. His passion and sincerity radiate through his well-timed message to teammates and coaches.
“I wanted to send this before Christmas as I have a gift currently in my possession that I have cherished for many years and now is the perfect time to give it away,” said Durepos.
Number four has brought me to many places and has put me on top of the world many times. Treat number four with respect, cherish it as much I did, or more if possible, tattoo it on your body if you’d like, be proud to wear it and what it stands for, never take it for granted, and respect all the other numbers that follow it five through 15 as power does come in numbers.”
Durepos is a five-time Paralympian who will be far from empty handed as he parts ways with the National Team. His crowded trophy case includes a remarkable three Paralympic gold medals and one silver medal that came amidst a dominant run of four consecutive appearances in the final of the sports most prestigious tournament. Beginning in 2000, with Durepos captaining Canada to its first-ever Paralympic gold medal in Sydney, the team continues to relish in a string of Paralympic success that has seen them accumulate an overall record of 31 wins and one loss. With the victory in Sydney, Durepos became the first-ever athlete to bring home an Olympic or Paralympic gold for the province of New Brunswick.
Following his most recent gold medal performance at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the City of Fredericton proclaimed September 25, 2012 as Dave Durepos Day. His performance was also ammunition enough for Sport New Brunswick to name him Male Athlete of the Year for a third time in 2012 following honours in 2001 and 2004.
Durepos also competed in five world championships, winning another gold and three bronze medals to go along with an all-star team nod at the 1998 World Championship. Another career highlight came in 2011 when Durepos was named Canada’s flag bearer at the Parapan American Games.
“Dave was a total team player from day one that he joined the National Team in 1994. His pure shooting, leadership, pride for his country and sense of humour allowed “Dirt” to have a long storied career. He is widely recognized as not only having been one of the best shooters on the Canadian team, but the world,” said Team Canada Head Coach Jerry Tonello.
Dirt was the cornerstone of a Canadian team whose foundation was strengthened by his character and leadership. We wish him all the best in his retirement. He will be missed but his legacy in our sport will live on through the young players he has been able to mentor,” added Tonello.
From a domestic perspective, Durepos is arguably one of the finest athletes that the Maritimes has ever produced. He was recruited to play for the Milwaukee Wheelchair Bucks, an elite club team in Division I of the United States’ National Wheelchair Basketball Association, where he captured the Final Four National Championship in 2002 and became the first Canadian to be named MVP. Further evidence of his elite skill can be found in the back-to-back MVP awards he won at the Canadian National Championships in 2006 and 2007.
A former standup basketball player, Durepos discovered wheelchair sports after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident in 1988. He made it his mission to take a negative and turn it into a positive and quickly established himself as a tremendous leader and ambassador for the game. Off the court, he continues to devote time to speak at schools and rehab centres helping to inspire others to achieve their goals and raise awareness about disability sport opportunities. He also remains a club and provincial coach in New Brunswick.