Vermilion’s Jolan Wong is training for her second Paralympics, and began camp Thursday in Edmonton.
For the next four days, she and the rest of the Team Canada Women’s Sitting Volleyball athletes and their coaches will overtake the Saville Community Centre, preparing for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in August 2021.
“The ultimate goal is to bring home a medal from Tokyo,” said Wong.
“Every camp is a building block towards that.”
Speaking of building blocks, Wong has put a lot of them in place already.
She was diagnosed with bone cancer at 12-years-old leading to the amputation of her right leg the following year, but Wong continued to play local sports.
Since then, Wong maintains her positive attitude and has built up her sitting volleyball career, gaining international recognition.
Originally scheduled for August 2020, the Paralympics were pushed back a full year.
Due to the pandemic, Wong said she hadn’t seen her team since February when they went undefeated during their Paralympic Qualifier, which earned them the last spot in Tokyo.
Their team training was halted until September, but they are now back to monthly team training camps.
With almost the full squad attending the camp, she hopes to work more on tactics, while at the first two camps back they were fine tuning a lot of the technical aspects of the game. As the libero, Wong said she will be working on her serve receive.
With everything closing for the pandemic, Wong said she was was lucky to have a home gym in Ontario.
That way, she was able to keep up with her conditioning program with her team’s trainer sending programs and by doing Zoom meetings.
“As far as being on the court, I had to get creative,” said Wong.
“For control drills I just played against the basement wall, and at one point I was sitting on the trampoline using the net as a re-bounder.
My local coach built me a rebound board to use, and best of all – I created a court out of cardboard, set up an outdoor net tied between a truck and a quad, and my coach and I would train in +30.”
Wong knows what she is up against as she lead Team Canada as captain during their first showing for Women’s Sitting Volleyball at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.
She was also awarded the ‘Best Receiver’ title at the Para Pan American Games in Lima, Peru in 2019.
“Being the captain of Team Canada is a huge role and tremendous honour,” said Wong.
“I’ve always been a silent leader who enjoys leading by example, but being the captain pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me find my voice and brought about a lot of confidence.”
Wong is excited to be back in Alberta and said she loves bringing her kids to show them where she grew up, going around town to see the new development, reminisce her childhood memories, and to see all of the familiar faces and smiling people.
“Growing up in Vermilion, such a tight knit community, had many benefits,” said Wong.
“Many benefits I didn’t realize until growing up and moving away. Seeing the community rally around me many times in my life from when I was diagnosed with cancer to my first Paralympic Games is so heartwarming. Small town with a big heart is an understatement,” said Wong.