Sledge hockey gold medalist Jack Wallace has his eyes set on Paris 2024


Jack Wallace competes in the sledge hockey semi-final match against Team China at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on March 11, 2022 in Beijing.

Wallace enjoys being involved in both sports and taking on the different challenges they both present, but admitted that hockey will always be his first love.

Growing up, the defenseman wrestled and played baseball, football and lacrosse, but hockey was always his favorite. “It’s been my number one sport since I was a kid,” Wallace said, even before his accident.

In 2008, while on a family vacation in New York, 10-year-old Wallace was waterskiing and was hit by the boat’s propeller. He spent several months in hospital – including three days in a medically induced coma – where doctors eventually amputated his right leg above the knee.

A year after his injury — and with no one to identify with as the only kid in his town to have an amputee — he was invited to attend Camp No Limits in Maine, a camp for kids who have lost a member.

“Seeing all these amazing, fully functioning members of society who happened to be amputated, not letting anything hold them back, it really kickstarted my rehabilitation,” said Wallace, now an advisor and adult mentor for the organization.

“At that time, I was physically healthy but mentally not in the best place. This camp helped me start the next stage of my life where I wanted to start doing things again.”

The first thing he did when he got back to New Jersey was research the nearest place to play sledge hockey, a sport he discovered at Camp No Limits.

Wallace then joined his local team, the NJ Freeze, and then the national sledge hockey development team for three years before making the national team.

Unlike sledge hockey, where he’s learned over time what works and what doesn’t, “I’m still very, very new to speed kayaking,” he said. “At the start of the summer, I was getting out on the water and doing different things – not knowing if it was helping me. So now I’m excited to approach autumn and winter with a real program of training from a top level coach and see what I can accomplish.”

Figuring out how to get off the line faster is something Wallace hopes to improve. “In most of my races, I start far behind everyone, but I catch everyone at the finish.”

With the ultimate finish line slated for the summer of 2024, his ability to dig deep and pull through for victory bodes well for Paris.

Until then, he has a busy sledge hockey season to prepare for, with the first world championship of the season scheduled for next month.


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