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It was as a teenager in Atikokan that this athlete first discovered the sport of powerlifting, and he never looked back, going on to reach the pinnacle of success in his sport not once, but twice. Starting in the early 1990s he began training with Ray Mussely and Albert Clement out of the Moose Lodge. Eventually testing his skills against other athletes, in no time at all was making a name for himself.

Traveling to North Bay to compete in the Special Olympics regionals, he dominated the competition. Claiming gold in the bench press and dead-lift, he broke and set new records and emerged as the overall lifter, beating his closest competitor by 90 pounds.

At the 1998 provincial championships, he once again brought home the gold, breaking and setting 3 new Canadian and world records in the bench press, deadlift and combined lifts in his weight class. At the 1998 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Sudbury, he earned national honours by winning 3 gold medals and breaking his own records.

Selected as one of four powerlifters to represent Canada at the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Raleigh, North Carolina, featuring 7,000 athletes from more than 150 countries, he swept the lightweight category, winning gold in the deadlift (150kg), the bench press (102 kg) and as the top weightlifter, returning home to a hero's welcome.

Continuing to train and compete he repeated as provincial champion and his three gold medals at the 2002 national championships in Prince Albert earned him a spot on Team Canada for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland. Selected as one of seven athletes to carry in and raise the Special Olympics flag during the opening ceremonies, he once again swept his category and returned home with 3 more world gold medals to add to his collection.

In addition to being well known for his incredible demonstrations of strength he also developed his trademark habit of jumping up and knocking the chalk dust off his hands after each lift, followed by a shooting action, that earned him the nickname 'Shotgun Paul Wragg'.

Named the 2000 Special Olympics Ontario Male Athlete of the Year this six-time world gold medallist also had his name added to Atikokan's 'Home Of ' sign letting everybody know just how proud his hometown is of his outstanding accomplishments.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 28, 2019

Paul Wragg

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