Dunsford’s Jon Thurston on his inspiring run to victory at World Wheelchair Championship

By William McGinn

As one of Canada’s newest and youngest wheelchair curlers, he’s been to several world championships,

Jon Thurston of Dunsford has recently returned from the World Wheelchair Championship where he helped get Team Canada all the way to the finals against China, where they placed second.

In addition, as one of Canada’s newest and youngest wheelchair curlers, he’s been to several world championships, local Canadian championships, and the Paralympics.

Thurston suffered a horrific accident in 2008 when he was only 24. Working in construction, one day a storm kicked up while he and a crew were working on a storage facility on St. David Street in Lindsay. The structure caved in, and the building fell in the direction he and his crew were running. He was pinned to the ground and suffered a T10 spinal cord injury. Some of his vertebrae were shattered. He had to undergo an eight-hour spinal reconstruction, spent a week in intensive care, and then was transferred to a rehab centre for a week to learn to cope with not only being in a wheelchair, but having completely lost the function of his legs.

Then in 2012, local wheelchair curling coach Carl Rennick heard about Thurston’s story while searching for a fourth player on his team, and invited him to try the sport. He gave it a go and soon found himself in yearly national championships. His first tournament in the 2013 Canadian championship, he and his team placed 7th out of 10, and a few years later in the 2019 Canadian championship he brought home his first medal, his team scoring third out of 14.

Today, Thurston is the owner of four medals, two bronze and two silver, one from the 2019 Canadian championship, two from World ones in 2020 and 2023, and one from the 2022 Winter Paralympics.

“My injury definitely changed my life,” Thurston told the Advocate. “But I’ve had a lot of great things happen to me since.”

In order to get into shape enough, Thurston’s life involves two hours of practice about twice a week, three hours at the gym at least three days a week, and two to three times a week he plays an actual game, all combined.

Something he really appreciates about Kawartha Lakes is living with three different curling clubs within half an hour of his home.

When asked what advice he would give to people who have had to shift gears in their lives like him because of a severe injury, he said, “I think that’s life. There’s always ups and downs, but it’s how you respond and how you rebound. What brings me happiness and what I’ve been pursuing is sports, and when I’m training and competing, even if it’s not the sport I expected…the experience has been truly great.”

Today, Thurston also does public speaking, recalling his journey and obstacles. He is also one of Canada’s top adaptive water skiers. He lives in Dunsford, where he just recently returned from the first Canadian championship since 2019, the previous year’s competitions cancelled due to the pandemic. He is now preparing for the next championships in 2024, and he assured the Advocate that one of these days, he’s bringing home gold.

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