NEWS

​Paralympian can't afford adapted bike to continue competing

07/23/2015 09:20 EDT | Updated 07/23/2016 05:59 EDT
These days, Kadidia Nikiema tries to stay in shape by playing wheelchair basketball at a Côte-des-Neiges park in Montreal.

But her real passion lies in handcycling, where athletes pedal with their hands rather than their feet.

​Nikiema was a handcycling champion in Africa and made it as far as the London Paralympics in 2012, where she was the flag bearer for her country, Burkina Faso.

Nikiema came to Canada as a refugee claimant in 2013. She had a training bike, but it fell apart.

Without it, she feels lost and is no longer able to train or compete.

"My bike allowed me to forget about my handicap," Nikiema says. "Without my bike, it feels like I have become handicapped for a second time."

Bike gave her freedom

Paralyzed by childhood polio at age 4, Nikiema wasn't able to go to school because it was too far from where her parents lived.

When a nun gave her a handcycle at age 17, she came alive.

"When I had the chance to get a bike and to do sports, I felt like I was able to succeed at something," Nikiema says.

Fundraising campaign for bike

Action Réfugiés Montréal started a fundraiser to get her an adapted bike so that Nikiema can start cycling again.

The type of bike she needs costs about $8,000. So far, the campaign has raised just over $5,000.

Nikiema is grateful for the donors who believed in her. She still has big dreams — first off, a gold at the Paralymics in Rio in 2016.

"I don't want to stop," Nikiema says. "It's like I've only gone halfway and I have a lot more to do."

Many of the biggest champions in her discipline have had tremendous success as they've gotten older and Nikiema thinks she has many years left.

"But without my bike, I can't move forward."

MORE:cbcNews