“Live life by not by what you lack but what you aspire to be.” -Noella’s favourite quote
Noella Klawitter sits across from me and is an attractive woman who looks as fit as she really is. A relatively new runner, the 34-year old found running at a time when she needed something to pull her back from the trauma of losing her vision. In the running community, many like moths to a flame have been drawn to the sport for one reason or another — many seem to find answers, freedom or learn more about themselves by putting one foot in front of the other.
While most Canadians are focused on folks like Eric Gillis and others competing for spots on the Olympic team, there are also many fine Canadian athletes vying for spots on the Canadian Paralympic team. The 2012 Paralympics will take place August 29 – September 9 in London following the regular Olympic Games, which end on August 9.
Having been diagnosed with vitreoretinal choroidopathy syndromein 2002 Noella made contact with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). CNIB provided assistance in adjusting to her new situation and one day she met someone who suggested she give running a try.
The first try at running was in 2008 at a regional Paralympic track meet. Clad in shorts, a t-shirt and basketball sneakers, the fire had yet to be ignited. But the flame, the desire and Noella’s running career began at the crack of the starter’s gun. That day not only did Noella run but also bested her competitors and qualified to compete at provincial and national meets. Not long after she was a double gold-medalist at the national championships. The fire was lit and she went on in 2008 to break the Canadian 200m record.
Since 2008 Noella has been burning up the track and has competed at Paralympic Pan Am and world championships and ranks high nationally and internationally. Along with her track success Noella acts as inspiration for others and speaks to many groups, is a business owner and has received recognition for her hard work and overcoming a challenge such as being chosen as medal bearer for the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Relay.
Noel and Noella talking
Thanks to fellow runner and friend Pam MacCormack, who is an inspiration herself, I had the chance to meet and talk with Noella. Here is some of our conversation:
What was the biggest challenge when you began to lose your vision?
“Things like losing my driver’s license, my independence and little things like being able to properly do my make-up and pick out an outfit to wear. I have however learned that whatever the challenge life puts in front of you, you can overcome it.”
What would making the 2012 Paralympic team mean to you?
“It would be amazing to represent my country, I have competed at the world championship level, but the Olympics is another step up. I have to run as hard as I can and run some good times in the 1500m to try and get myself a spot on the team. I might be a better 800m runner but there is no 800m at the 2012 Games and the 1500m, which I only started running in 2010, is my best shot at a podium finish.”
What do you get out of running and what are your long-term goals?
“My running has allowed me to share with others my experience and what running has done for me — through talks at schools, sharing with people how they can get through adversity. I am currently discussing with my husband about training for the next Olympics in four years but before that are the world championships in 2013.”
Noella is currently attending Ottawa University and working on her masters degree in human kinetics. She trains with the Ottawa Lions Track Club and lives in Ottawa with her husband Derek and guide dog Zeke.
Pushing to run as fast as she can this summer, she is aiming to run under a 5:04 for the 1500m to gain a spot on the 2012 Paralympic Team in the T12 (5-percent vision) category. The team will be announced July 1. Run on Noella! It is not the medal but how it is won that inspires.
Noella’s Track Record
100m 13.83 Canadian Record
Noella has set numerous Canadian records, won Ontario and national titles, is a triple gold medallist at the 2009 Pan Am Games and competed at the 2011 world championship.
For those in Ottawa – come out and support Noella at an event on June 13! Terry Orlick, Ph.D, a world-renowned leader in teaching and coaching people how to perform to their capacity and enhance the joyfulness of their lives, will be the keynote speaker.
For others wanting to know more check out a documentary the CBC did on the inspirational paralympic athlete in 2011.
Think you have a story you want to share- love to hear from you.
See you on the roads or in the blogosphere.