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Defying the odds

Stefanie Reid, Artsci’06, won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in  in the T44 long jump. She will be a a guest speaker at the Tricolour Reception in London, on Nov. 10, at Canada House. (Photo courtesy stefreid.com)

There is no question that Queen’s tricolour pride extends beyond borders but in the case of Stefanie Reid, Artsci’06, Queen’s is where the heart is.

After she lost her foot in 2000 in a boating accident, her dreams of becoming a professional rugby player came to a halt.  

Jump ahead 15 years, and Ms. Reid, a citizen of Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand, has defied the odds and continues to excel as an athlete at an elite level. This past summer at the Rio Paralympic Games, she captured Great Britain’s first medal, winning silver in the T44 long jump. Ms. Reid stayed in Rio after her competition to serve as a commentator for the UK’s Channel 4 TV for the remainder of the games.

Ms. Reid will join Principal Daniel Woolf, Artsci’80, as a guest speaker at the Tricolour Reception in London, UK, taking place Nov. 10, at Canada House.

“I was really touched when London Branch President Naazin Adatia-Hirst reached out to me before Rio 2016 and let me know I would have local support in London,” says the three-time Paralympian and five-time world record holder. “I’m thrilled to be invited to speak at the upcoming Tricolour Reception in London, which will be a great opportunity to reconnect and meet other alumni.”

As an alumnus and champion of Queen’s international reputation, Principal Woolf will travel to London in support of the Queen’s University Comprehensive International Plan (QUICP).

“It will be a great honour to have such an inspirational alumna as Stefanie Reid join other alumni and share her experience as an athlete on the world stage,” says Principal Woolf. “The goal for the London trip is to connect with the many alumni in the region who are enhancing Queen’s reputation and highlighting the value of a Queen’s education to prospective students while building a strong alumni network.”

This won’t be the first time that Principal Woolf and Ms. Reid shared a stage. In 2009, Ms. Reid was recognized by the Queen’s University Alumni Association (QUAA) with the One-to-Watch award at a gala dinner hosted by Principal Woolf and the QUAA.

Her long list of accomplishments includes being the first British amputee to model at London Fashion Week when she opened Lenie Boya’s 2015 show wearing a bespoke chandelier blade prosthesis.

Ms. Reid competed in London 2012, capturing silver in the T44 long jump. She also competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games where she won a bronze medal in the 200-metre event and placed fifth in the long jump. In 2007, she was named the Paralympics’ Ontario top female athlete of the year at the Ontario Para Sports Awards. During the 2007 season, she broke the Canadian long jump record in the F44 class (single, below knee amputation), a record which had stood since 1988. She would later better the mark on two occasions and close out the season with a new Canadian record of 4.78 metres.

Fifteen years ago, shortly after her accident in 2001, she was inspired by the Queen’s track and field team, catching glimpses of the practices from her home. With the assistance and encouragement of Queen’s coach Wayne Bulak, she joined the team to see just how fast she could still run. By her fourth year at Queen’s, Ms. Reid was traveling regularly to competitions with the varsity team and was nominated for a major CIS award.  She won the Ontario University Athletics Community Service Award in track and field during the 2006-07 season.

Upon graduation, Ms. Reid put her plans to attend medical school aside and focused on her childhood dream of being a professional athlete.  She is married to Canadian Paralympian Brett Lakatos, a wheelchair racer whose six Paralympic medals join her three at their home in Loughborough, UK.

Join Ms. Reid and Principal Woolf at the Tricolour Reception in London, UK on Nov. 10 and stay tuned for a Q&A session that will be published on the Queen's Alumni website.Visit the Queen's Alumni website to register online.

Visit the Queen’s Alumni Review website to learn more about Ms. Reid’s story.