UBC alum Travis Murao represents Canada in wheelchair rugby

Wheelchair rugby player and UBC alumnus Travis Murao is a four-time Paralympian who plays for the Canadian National Team.

Murao was introduced to wheelchair rugby by one of the sport’s inventors: Duncan Campbell. Campbell happened to be Murao’s recreational therapist while he was undergoing rehabilitation after a snowboarding injury that occurred when he was 17 years old.

Making the national team in 2006 was an important moment for Murao. In an interview with The Ubyssey, he said, “I thought that portion of my life had been taken from me when I had my accident…it was really cool to be able to identify as an athlete first again.”

Murao, whose team recently won the silver medal at the 2022 Canada Cup, was amazed at the talent the parasports world had to offer during his first Paralympic Games. While there, he was introduced to many sports for the first time and particularly took interest in the one-legged high jump.

Murao said, “I learned [that]… maybe my situation or my circumstances weren't as unique as I thought and …there's a whole world out there of people who are going through similar or worse struggles.” He added that seeing the achievements of the other para athletes at these games “was really inspiring and …motivated [him] to keep pushing further.”

Murao attended UBC to pursue an undergraduate degree in English literature before transferring to the University of Arizona. While he does look back at a lot of his journey at UBC fondly, Murao faced accessibility challenges during his time at the university. The hilly terrain, long distances between classes and the lack of an adapted or accessible athletics program were some of the concerns he brought to light during the interview.

However, he admitted that UBC has come a long way since his time on campus. He hopes that the university keeps working on bettering its accessibility facilities as he fears that as a country, Canada is losing a lot of its parasport athletes to the US.

Murao has a busy couple of months ahead of him, during which his team will be making the country proud at the Tri-Nations Cup in Alabama (competing against the USA and Great Britain), the Quad Nations Cup in Wales and the World Championships in Denmark. When asked about what advice he would give to young players starting out in the field of sports, Murao said, “It's great to love competing…but you also have to fall in love with the grind.”

He added, “I think my biggest advice would be– learn how to make your everyday training environment something that you're excited about, happy about and passionate about.”

Murao undergoes intense training for wheelchair rugby, including two sessions of on-court physical training per day, along with recovery– and treatment when necessary. While Murao is a dedicated player on the court, he is also thoroughly invested in his life outside of the sport.

He said, “Having a life-sport balance …cultivating my other interests and keeping my mind active in other pursuits… [and] real world social support outside of rugby [in the form of] my wife, my family… is super important [to me].”