Daniel Igali

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A little over two years ago I found myself dealing with the toughest battle of my entire life. To be honest, when I look back on it all now it seems like a bad dream.

In the early days just after I suffered my stroke I was still in shock as I desperately came to terms with the challenges ahead of me. I remember the doctors and nurses doing all they could to support me as I was prepared for my very first day of physio therapy.

It broke my heart when I was finally able to listen to my phone
messages, especially when I heard the gentle voice of my good friend Daniel Igali. He happened to be in town during the G8 summit and was kind enough to invite me out for dinner with the head of the United Nations, Kofi Anon, and all the African leaders.

Daniel and I had become friends when he passed through Calgary shortly after he won the 69 kg Gold medal for wrestling at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. We had both dealt with recent tragedies within our families and I had the highest regard for Daniel when he represented Canada and I was proud of him when he dropped to his knees and kissed the Canadian flag after winning.

I’d only just become half paralyzed and oh how I wished I could have taken him up on his kind invitation. Deep in despair I was about to be wheeled down to the bowels of Foothills Hospital when in walked Daniel, along with his coach Dave McKay.

I sometimes wonder how I made it through that time in my life, let
alone that day. But I’ll never forget that it was Daniel Igali who pushed my wheelchair out of my hospital room and down the hall for what would be the first day of the rest of my life. Those first small steps were such a big step on a very long road to recovery. It’s not my intention to write about that dark
time. Quite the opposite, I’m happy to say I’ve been blessed with a miraculous recovery, in no small part because of the encouragement and support of my real true hero of wrestling, Daniel Igali.

Daniel, once again, is representing Canada and faces an uphill challenge as he’s moved up one weight class to the 74 kg division on top of suffering a neck injury, which he had operated on last year. There’s talk that Daniel is not the favorite to win but anybody who knows him knows that his is the heart of a lion and he has a way of realizing his dreams, not just for himself but for all of us who dream with him.

I don’t want to sound biased but I have no doubt that winning a gold medal in olympic wrestling is absolutely the hardest medal of them all to win! It takes incredible dedication, speed, strength, and conditioning to successfully meld mind and body equally while going full blast. I hope Canadians will tune in and watch this first rate world class athlete do us proud.

Daniel Igali is a true Canadian hero. Nobody appreciates that more than me.