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Three coaches nominated for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic team

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OTTAWA – The Canadian Paralympic team for Tokyo 2020 continued to take shape on Monday with the nomination of three award-winning coaches to the squad that will compete at the 16th Summer Paralympic Games from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

Eric Kramer, Marc-André Pelletier and Mike Thompson join a group of seven athletes who were nominated for the Canadian delegation last September following the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London.

Kramer, Pelletier and Thompson have all merited national coaching awards from Swimming Canada over the past two seasons.

“I’m very glad to have Mike, Eric and Marc-André declare their availability and interest in joining our team for the Tokyo Games. As home coaches of swimmers already achieving nomination for the team, I know they have the skills and experience to do the job,” said Wayne Lomas, Swimming Canada’s Associate Director of High Performance and Para Swimming National Coach. “Coaches play an incredibly important role in facilitating peak performance of swimmers and all three have demonstrated their ability to help swimmers, not just from their own training groups, to achieve their very best on the day that matters.

“In making these appointments now, I’m looking to provide our coaches and swimmers with certainty in their preparations. I’m confident in the abilities of Marc-André, Eric and Mike.”

Kramer, who earned back-to-back Swimming Canada Coach of the Year (Female Para-swimmer) recognitions in 2017 and 2018, will make his Paralympic Games debut in Tokyo.

At the helm of the Saskatoon Lasers Swim Club since 2015, he was part of the Canadian coaching staff at London 2019 where two of his athletes competed, including Shelby Newkirk, who captured silver in the women’s 100-m backstroke S7.

Earlier in his career, Kramer was the personal coach of Olympic bronze medallist Patricia Noall (Seoul 1988) and Olympian Martine Dessureault (Atlanta 1996). He was also an assistant coach for Canada at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

Pelletier, the head coach at Club de Natation Région de Québec since 2004, will also make his first Paralympic Games appearance this summer.

A two-time Swimming Canada Coach of the Year award recipient (Male Para-swimmer, 2018 and 2016), his previous international experience includes the Olympic Games (2012), world championships (2011 and 2013), as well as multiple stints at the Pan Pacific Championships, Commonwealth Games and FISU Games.

Pelletier coached Katerine Savard at the 2012 Olympics, helped Sarah Mailhot reach the 2012 Paralympics, and now coaches Nicolas-Guy Turbide, a 2016 Paralympic Games bronze medallist in the men’s 100-m backstroke S13, and Aurélie Rivard, the reigning gold medallist from Rio 2016 in the women’s 50, 100 and 400-m freestyle S10 who recently moved to Quebec City in preparation for the 2020 Games.

“I’m really happy to join the Paralympic team,” said Pelletier. “It will be a new experience for me and I’m very motivated to give the best of myself to help the team perform to the best of its abilities.”

Thompson is a veteran of the Rio 2016 Paralympics, where he coached Jean-Michel Lavallière, Isaac Bouckley and Benoît Huot, who captured the last of his 20 career medals at the Games, bronze in the 400-m freestyle S10. He was also part of the Canadian staff at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto and at two World Para Swimming Championships, including London 2019, where Thompson-coached swimmers Rivard (2 gold-1 silver-2 bronze), Tess Routliffe (0-1-2) and James Leroux (0-1-0) combined for nine medals.

Thompson was named the first head coach of Swimming Canada’s Para-swimming Intensive Training Program – Quebec in 2015, and remained at the helm when the Montreal-based program was upgraded to a full High Performance Training Centre in 2017.

He was Swimming Canada’s Coach of the Year – Paralympic Program in 2019.

The next opportunity for Canadian Para-swimmers to qualify for Tokyo will be the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials presented by Bell, set for March 30 to April 5 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

The final coaching appointment will be made at the conclusion of the Trials, bringing to four the total number of coaches who will join Senior Team Coach Vince Mikuska’s staff.