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Ken Bjorn did not let the fact that he was born with less than 10 percent vision stand in his way of competing in sports. A member of the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind swim team from the age of 10, and training with the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts, Ken was a standout in the pool.


Competing at the Ontario Games for the Physically Disabled, Ken was a dominate force, garnering a number of 1st place finishes and setting Ontario records. His success at the national level, starting in 1984, was just as impressive, with more than 20 1st place finishes to his credit.


Setting the 1988 Paralympics as his goal, Ken trained hard and competed on the international level. In 1985 he attended the Swedish Open for the Disabled in Malmo, earning three firsts. At the 1986 World Championships and Games for the Physically Disabled in Sweden, he earned 6 top-ten finishes, including a 4th place showing in the 400m freestyle. The following year it was the Great Britain Visually Handicapped Swimming Championships where he earned five 2nd place finishes.


Ken's international success allowed him to achieve his goal, being named to the Canadian Team that competed in the 1988 Paralympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. This event featured over 3,000 athletes representing some 60 countries. Competing in six freestyle and breaststroke events, Ken exceeded all his personal best times, finishing 7th overall in the 400m freestyle and 8th in the 200m breaststroke.


Ken's athletic involvement was not just limited to swimming. In 1984 he was a member of the gold medal winning goal ball team at the Ontario Games for the Physically Disabled. A skier since the age of 8, he placed 2nd in the disabled slalom ski event at the 1987 Ontario Winter Games held in Thunder Bay.


Throughout his life, Ken has never let his visual impairment stand in his way. Whether he is competing in the annual Surprise Lake swim race, gliding down the hills on his skiis, going for gold at the Paralympics, or volunteering his time at sporting events in his community, Ken Bjorn has always shown a commitment to athletics.


Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25, 1999

Ken Bjorn

Thunder Bay
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