Bianca Borgella: A Journey of Resilience and Triumph

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Bianca Borgella (Left) Running at Para athletics worlds 2023 in Paris

Bianca Borgella’s foray into track and field began modestly during her school years, participating in events ranging from 100m sprints to the 400m dash and the long jump. A muscle tear in middle school momentarily halted her progress, but her determination saw her return stronger. By grade 9, she was competing in the EOSSAA track and field championships, finishing 14th in the women’s 100m despite her limited experience.

Her summers were spent at the Ontario Blind Sports Association (OBSA) Summer Sports Camp, catering to individuals with visual impairments. It was here that her talent was recognized by Toronto-based coach Craig Blackman, leading to her inclusion in The Ottawa Lions Track Club.

Under the guidance of coaches Zach Quevillion and Natalie Geiger, Bianca underwent intensive training, culminating in her international classification in May 2021 as a para athlete in the women’s T13 category. That year, she set Canadian records in the 100m, 200m, and 400m and achieved victories at the Ontario Provincial Championships.

Despite a recurring hip injury in 2022, Bianca clinched gold in the 400m and 100m at her first Canadian National Championships and a U20 4x100m relay gold. She also set a personal record in the 60m event at the Saints Holiday Relay with a time of 7.78 seconds.

2023 saw her shine on the international stage at the Dubai Grand Prix, winning gold in the 100m and 400m among T13 athletes. Her training under Coach Yolande Jones-Grande led to new Canadian records and her selection for the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships in Paris. There, she won a bronze in the 100m and a silver in the 200m, setting new records.

Bianca’s journey is a testament to her patience, perseverance, and determination. As she reflects on her path, she acknowledges the challenges that molded her into a world champion and is determined for the future chapters of success that awaits her.

Mick Ferras

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Mick Ferras has been helping athletes in various sports at all levels in the community for decades. He graduated from the recreation and leadership program at Conestoga College in 1980 and began looking for a job. After speaking with a friend, Brian Cheevers, Ferras applied to W. Ross Macdonald School in Brantford. He was hired as a residence counsellor, teaching blind and deafblind students life skills, while running evening recreation programs. Ferras was also involved with the phys-ed department, run by John Howe, who became a mentor. Over the past couple of decades, Ferras has been instrumental in pushing the sport forward. He has been involved in various roles as Ontario men’s teams have won 13 national championships and the women’s teams have won 15.

Blind Soccer can’t be ignored!

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The positive impact Blind Soccer has had on the community is simply amazing and one to remember.

The idea for this event started in 2018 when Matt Greenwood was approached by the Ontario Parasport Collective to consider a project on developing more coaches for blind soccer. An application was developed in partnership with Ontario Blind Sport staff and submitted then approved with the plan to host the course in March 2022.

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Farewell to Shirley Shelby

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Shirley Shelby

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Shirley Shelby on Tuesday, August 24th, 2021. Shirley was Ontario Blind Sports Association’s (OBSA) past president and an iconic figure in the world of blind sports.

Shirley Shelby was a passionate and an inspirational leader in sports for the physically disabled for over 40 years. Her dedication to serving the blind and visually impaired community began at the Summer Games in 1981; discovering the limitations that persons with a disability face when travelling, she decided to start her own travel agency which specialized in travel for individuals with special needs. Through her leadership and enthusiasm, she was able to alter airline travel policies and procedures to create better ease of travel for persons with a disability. Shirley had a fervent love for sport, quickly becoming a founding member of Sport for Disabled Ontario (now ParaSport Ontario) and Ontario Blind Sports Association (OBSA).

For over 40 years, Shirley has devoted herself through her work with OBSA and ParaSport Ontario to help Canadians with a disability realize the benefits that sports and physical activity can bring. She has steered the ship through program and athlete development in blind sport, all while balancing books and handling the politics of the industry with grace and steadfast leadership. Shirley always served and stood up for the needs of persons living a disability. All of her efforts have positively impacted the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of Canadians with a physical disability; some that have gone on to win multiple medals at international competitions and others that have simply felt the lifelong benefits that sport can provide. All of these successes can be attributed to Shirley’s initiative and influence as a leader.

Shirley went on to receive multiple awards for her work; in 1991 she won the Ron Foster Award where she was recognized for her volunteerism at the provincial level; in 2008, she was a King Clancy Award recipient, recognized for her dedication to delivering opportunities for athletes with a physical disability in sport and recreation; and in 2013, Shirley was inducted at the Ontario Blind Sports Association Hall of Fame. Shirley’s accolades expand further, also receiving honours at the Ontario Sport Awards and the Toronto Sports Hall of Honour Lifetime Achievement award. Her last award was given to her in 2017 at the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame. Shirley’s love to serve others has made her a well-deserving recipient of her many awards, and her efforts are recognized at the local, provincial, and national level for the many battles she has fought and won for people with a disability.

Shirley Shelby selflessly devoted her time and effort to create more opportunities in competitive and recreational sports for persons with a disability. Her unwavering dedication and hard work helped develop a strong community of sport for persons with a physical disability and public awareness that all persons are able. Whatever needed to be done, Shirley was there and could always be counted on, always focused on what it means to be an athlete. She has given as much to her OBSA family as she has her own, always driven by her dedication and passion for helping others. Much of the evolution of the Paralympic movement can be attributed to the foundation that Shirley helped lay. Shirley’s spirit, passion, dedication, humor and support will be greatly missed.

Junior Nationals 2018

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With school out for the summer, many of our athletes are enjoying some much-deserved downtime before resuming their training. Some will be joining us for our Summer Sports Camp, others will train privately and some with their organizations. With this in mind, the OBSA wanted to congratulate some of our junior athletes on a successful 2018 Goalball Junior Nationals. We look forward to following the continued success of these athletes. Stay tuned for our summer newsletter with more results and acheivements. From Halifax, Nova Scotia, the results are as follows:


1st – Nova Scotia

2nd – Ontario

3rd – BC/Quebec


1st – BC

2nd – Nova Scotia

3rd – Ontario