The rose pedal flames were extinguished in London two weeks ago, but similar international events will kick off on Wednesday. There will be plenty of names Alabama students should follow, starting with one of the most dominant wheelchair basketball players in the world: senior Cindy Ouellet.
Ouellet, who is currently in London, is among four players from the University of Alabama representing Canada in women’s wheelchair basketball at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
“I am really honored to be part of such of a great program,” Ouellet said. “Having the opportunity to represent your country is a pretty unique experience.”
Ouellet is no stranger to international competition. The Quebec City native also played in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and helped Team Canada win a bronze medal at the 2010 World Championships in Birmingham, England.
Brent Hardin, Ouellet’s coach for three years at the University, said as soon as he laid eyes on the promising Canadian, he was sold immediately.
“I saw Cindy in Vancouver when I was recruiting her,” he said. “You just go ‘wow’, because she’s a really dynamic athlete. She’s a great hard worker and a great competitor and has developed into a smart player.”
Ouellet has been a vital piece to the Crimson Tide’s success on the hardwood, as well. The three-time national champion had her best season during the 2011-12 season, averaging 18.8 PPG, eight RPG and eight assists per game.
Ouellet said she attributes much of her success for Team Canada to the mentorship and top-notch completion on her team.
“UA has such a good training environment,” she said. “’That is why I moved down to Alabama because Canada does not have a wheelchair basketball program in university. UA training made me much stronger, as well, so my speed and agility is much better.”
Hardin said when Ouellet arrived on campus three years ago, she was extremely fast, but still needed some fine-tuning.
“When she came, she was more known more for her speed,” he said. “But she has developed into a team leader and an all-around player. Cindy is one of the best five players in the world and she won’t come off the court much for Team Canada.”
Ouellet said her experience in London has been pleasant so far, compared to previous games and each day is a part of her mental preparation process.
“Five days in now and Olympic Village has been really nice,” she said. “The food is good, the training facilities are really nice and volunteers are really awesome. Things are going pretty smoothly so far, compared to other big games I have been in.”
Along with other UA Paralympic athletes like Elisha Williams, Maude Jacques and Katie Harnock to join her on Team Canada, Ouellet said she will be joined by family and friends in London. She said hopes to take whatever experience she takes from London and bring it back to The University of Alabama after the flames are extinguished.
Hardin said he could not be more proud that so many athletes like Ouellet are not only representing their country, but The University of Alabama in the process.
“I think it is one of the bright lights of our university that we have so many people in London,” he said, “and that they are proud to represent their countries and Alabama, as well.”