October is Healthy Workplace month, and no one exemplifies a healthy employee more than Marianne Maiboll. Marianne, a Visual Management Specialist in the Kaizen Promotion Office competed in the last three Paralympic Games.

Marianne Maiboll, an employee in the Kaizen Promotion Office, is also a three time Paralympian. She recently returned from the London Games and has also competed in Vancouver and Beijing.

“Even if I was retired from elite sport, I would train,” says Marianne. “Probably not at the level I do now, but I would be in the gym and on the track. I think of it this way, even if you had the worst day at work, the minute you get out there and the blood starts pumping, it makes everything feel better.”

“You don’t have to be an elite athlete to get a rush from working out, anyone can do it,” she adds.

Marianne is a wheelchair racer and cross country skier. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she competed in the Women’s T54 100 metre, 400 metre and 800 metre races. She also competed at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in 2010 and the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Summer Games.

When getting ready for the 2012 London Paralympics, Marianne could often be found training six days a week on the track, combined with three more days a week in the gym. She said it was difficult adjusting to the rigours of a full-time job and preparing for the Paralympics, but she loves her sport, so she made adjustments.

“I took a month off training after the Games. It was nice not having to worry about what I ate or hauling myself to the gym,” she says. “But you know what? I missed it!”

Marianne moved to Canada almost two years ago to train with legendary Paralympic athlete Rick Reelie. Competing for Canada at the Paralympic Games from 1988 to 2000, he won five gold medals, three silver and one bronze. “Living in Copenhagen, I was the only racer in a city of 1.5 million people with no coaching,” says Marianne. “Here, I am part of a team and have great coaching.”

Competing against a field of mostly professional wheelchair racers, Marianne stands out as a full-time employee. Her training allowance is considerably smaller than that of her Canadian teammates. She must also pay her own way to track events around the world. And her custom made equipment isn’t covered by her country – more money out of pocket. That doesn’t stop her however. She is still a world class wheelchair racer.

In the lead up to the London Games, she says she was flying in training camp. Ten days out and she was seeing personal bests and feeling confident that she would do well. And then, disaster struck. Just before the Games, Marianne was diagnosed with an infected tooth and put on antibiotics. She doesn’t make any excuses, but says the illness definitely affected her speed.

“I had a great time. But I was a little disappointed in my races. I felt a little unfulfilled afterwards,” she says. “But at least I can say even unwell, I’m in the Top 15 in the world!”

Marianne says each Games has been special and each different in their own way. In Vancouver, she was honoured to be the flag bearer for Denmark. In London, she said the crowd was amazing.

“I had a teammate who competed earlier than I did. She told me, ‘whatever you do don’t look up (at the crowd), it’s intense’,” says Marianne. “I didn’t take her advice! My dad told me I didn’t stop smiling for the whole warm-up lap!”

Now it’s back to earth for Marianne. She says the month she took to go to the Games was very important to the KPO and she is still catching up. Asked if she intends to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games and Marianne gets a small smile on her face.

“You know, four years is a long time. Who knows what will happen. I’m looking forward to the World Championships in France next year, after that who knows?” she says, before pausing and grinning, “I’ve heard Sochi is beautiful…”

Only time will tell if Saskatoon Health Region, the KPO and of course the country of Denmark is represented at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games…