Frank Bruno Canada

I graduated from Durham College in 1983 in Sports Administration. I was awarded the honour of being named Male Athlete of the Year. This included winning the Provincial Basketball Championships in O.C.A.A. Tier 2; being named to the Championship Tournament All Star team; and capturing a bronze medal at the Provincial Touch Football Championship Tournament.

Immediately following graduation I was employed at a popular Racquet and Fitness Centre in Mississauga as the Racquet Sports Director.

On June 25, 1986, while at work, I fell twenty feet and fractured both sides of my skull and was in a coma for three weeks. According to the doctors there was little hope for recovery. I was given less than a 2% chance of making it out of the operating room, never mind ever walking or talking again.

Upon awakening I was placed into a rehabilitation program where I received speech, occupational and physiotherapy. My first recollection of being awake was I could only turn my head to the left. The rest of my body was totally paralysed. I had to be lifted in and out of my bed and wheelchair, as I could not do it myself. After several weeks of therapy I was able to walk under my own power, much to the surprise of the doctors and therapists. They could not believe I had progressed to this point so quickly.

In 1987, a fellow classmate who worked at the office of Sport for Disabled Ontario asked if I was interested in taking part in sports again. I had a tough enough time trying to walk so I declined. In 1988 I decided to give it a try with the hopes of improving my coordination and increasing my stamina.

In case you are wondering, Sport for Disabled is different from the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics are for people who are mentally challenged. Sport for Disabled is for athletes who have a physical disability. There are four major disability groups:

  • wheelchair
  • amputee
  • blind/visually impaired
  • cerebral palsy

After a medical evaluation I was placed into the cerebral palsy division at level 8. Within this division there are eight separate classes; levels one to four are in wheelchairs, and levels five to eight are ambulatory. Level one being the most affected by cerebral palsy where as level eight has the least visible disability. I have never had cerebral palsy but because of my brain injury I have the same neurological symptoms as someone born with cerebral palsy.

In 1988 I began to compete in Sport for the Disabled and at the Provincial Championships I finished second in both the 100m and 200m races in the CP8 class.

In Ottawa for the 1989 Provincial Championships I won both the 100m, 200m, plus the long jump and shot put events. These were all Canadian Records. This earned me a place on the Provincial Team, which competed in the Foresters’ Games (National Championships) in Richmond, BC. At these Games I won the same four events plus the 4 x 100m relay. This was the first time a Canadian Cerebral Palsy relay team ever finished in less than one minute.

This qualified me to be named to the Canadian Team that would compete in the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS AND GAMES FOR THE DISABLED, which were held in Assen, The Netherlands. I was entered into five sprint races plus shot put and long jump. By the end of the Games I had won FIVE GOLD MEDALS and TWO SILVER MEDALS. Included were setting THREE WORLD RECORDS and SIX CANADIAN RECORDS.

The Ministry of Tourism and Recreation Ontario awarded myself as ONTARIO’S 1990 DISABLED ATHLETE OF THE YEAR.

In 1991 the Barcelona Paralympic Organizing Committee invited me to take part in their “TEST MEET” in Barcelona, Spain. I ran in the 200m and 400m events winning Gold in both and lowering my WORLD RECORD in 400m. The Paralympics are the Olympics for the Physically Disabled. They occur every four years in the same city as the Olympics. We use the same venues, eating facilities and dormitories as the Olympics. The Paralympics are usually held two weeks after the Summer/Winter Olympics are completed.

At the 1992 IX SUMMER PARALYMPICS I competed in three sprint events: 100m, 200m and 400m. I won THREE GOLD MEDALS plus set TWO NEW WORLD and PARALYMPIC RECORDS and a CANADIAN RECORD.

In 1993 at the Robin Hood Games (World Championships for Cerebral Palsy) which were held in Nottingham, England I competed in the 100m and 200m sprint events in which I won GOLD MEDALS in both.

The 1994 World Disabled Athletics Championships were held in Berlin, Germany. This World Championships were not as fruitful for I was unable to attend any of the practice sessions as my back flared up as it did not adjust properly to the mattress I was sleeping on. After many physiotherapy and acupuncture treatments it responded well enough to allow me to compete in the 100m semi-final. I was happy just to be able to compete in the event and finished second with a time of 12:23 seconds. The next day featured the 100m final race. I had a fairly good start, at about the midway point I felt a sharp pain in my right hamstring and as I continued to push towards the finish line I tore my hamstring and was out of competition. In that race I finished 7th with a time of 12:70 seconds.

For the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics I participated in only one event, shot put. My hamstring did not heal to the point where I could train as hard as I wished. Then on May 13 I suffered a tonic-clonic seizure and this really made a mess my training. I learned to throw the shot put in just under four weeks and placed fourth at the Paralympics and threw a personal best of 11.07 meters. I have held the World Record in the 200m for eight years and the Paralympic Record for three Games. I also held the World Record in 400m for five years and the Paralympic Record for four years and two Paralympic Games.

On November 17, 1998 I was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame (Now called the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame).

September 1999 saw I came out of retirement, again. The Czech Republic Cerebral Palsy Sports Association invited me to take part in the opening of a brand new athletic centre in Turnov, Czech Republic. I was asked to be part of the Field throwing triathlon. I was required to throw the shot put, discus and javelin. At first I declined but after speaking with the organizing committee they still wanted me to compete. I told them the last time I threw the shot put was in the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996, the last time I threw the javelin was in 1989 and I never threw the discus. I went to the Czech Republic with less than three weeks of practice. Not much was expected due to the lack of practice time and the rest of the throwing field had been training for the past three years. I finished fourth in shot put, seventh in javelin and eighth in discus.

In August of 2004, I was asked to come out of retirement, yet again, to help build the soccer program for the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports with the goal of qualifying for the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, China.

On February 5, 2010 I was awarded the KING CLANCY AWARD.

On March 10, 2011 I was inducted into the Durham College Sports Hall of Fame.

 

Are you interested in sharing your story?