BRITISH COLUMBIA

Avril Harris, Able-Bodied Wheelchair Basketball Player, Inspired By Father's Injury

02/17/2015 03:06 EST | Updated 02/17/2015 03:59 EST
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As a three-time Canada Winter Games wheelchair basketball player, Avril Harris has been in a wheelchair almost since he was born — but not because he needs it.

"First time I got into a wheelchair? I was three weeks old," Harris told Daybreak North.

The 23-year-old able-bodied Prince George resident, who read out the Athletes' Oath at the 2015 Canada Winter Games' opening ceremony last Friday, was raised around wheelchair basketball.

"They had me on my Dad's everyday chair on the sidelines of a basketball court, so literally as soon as I was born, I was on a wheelchair."

Harris is following in the footsteps of his father, Pat Harris, who broke his back at a young age, and went on to build a long career in wheelchair basketball, playing and coaching.

Harris's father is currently Director at Large of the B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association. Meanwhile, his mother, Nancy Harris, is the regional coordinator for the B.C. Wheelchair Basketball Society's Let's Play program.

Shooting for gold

Harris himself began playing for Team BC at the Canada Winter Games in 2007 and the team placed seventh at the 2011 Games. Despite that, Harris is shooting for gold this time around.

Harris says his father, who was a track and field athlete before he started playing wheelchair basketball, is his inspiration. Father and son have even played together at the national level.

"For a while when I was a little younger, when he still passed me or beat me, I just started getting a little faster," Harris recalls.

"He's like, 'I'm just going to start giving up now,' because there's no point in him trying to catch up to me."

The preliminary round of wheelchair basketball begins Monday night. The finals are slated for Feb. 20.

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