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Curler hopes new funding will help him hurry harder

Sanford athlete receives $8,000 bursary from Petro-Canada

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A Sanford-based wheelchair curler is hoping that some recently acquired financial backing will help him hit the button on the next stage of his curling career.


Dennis Thiessen, 50, was recently awarded an $8,000 bursary from Petro-Canada’s Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence program. The FACE funding will assist him with training, something that Thiessen hopes will eventually lead to better results on the pebble.


"I think it is absolutely fantastic how Petro-Canada contributes to the athletes with this funding," he said. "Without this funding a lot of us athletes wouldn’t be able to afford the extra training it takes to get us to the next level."


Thiessen, who has been wheelchair curling for the last seven years, is already pretty accomplished on the ice. He is the skip of the Manitoba provincial team which won a national championship in 2011. He also won bronze medals in 2008, 2009 and 2010.


This year FACE will provide bursaries to 50 athletes across the country. Thiessen is one of two Manitobans to receive funding through the program.


Steven Keith , Petro-Canada’s director of loyalty and marketing partnerships, said FACE has been in existence, in one form or another, since 1988 and has provided more than $8 million in direct financial support to Canadian athletes and coaches.


"This program really goes back to the 1988 Calgary Games," he said. "Petro-Canada at that time raised some money through Olympic glassware sold at our retail outlets. The funds raised then became part of the Olympic Torch Scholarship fund which was offered to young athletes enrolled in post-secondary education."


Keith said the fund works with the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Paralympic Committee and the Coaching Association of Canada to identify athletes that are deserving of support.


"There is a very specific criteria for this bursary, mainly the athletes we choose must not be carded and that means they are not receiving direct funding from sport Canada," he said. "We really want to find athletes who are close to being carded with the goal of getting those athletes the funds they need to get carded."


This is a dream come true for Thiessen who says his "goal is to get carded and acquire some national funding."

prescott.james@canstarnews.com

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