The 2016 Canadian track and field trials start Thursday in Edmonton, with Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls taking their final shot at making the team for the Games in Rio.
Report on Rio will be covering this last-chance qualifier for the 2016 Paralympics – today we feature five athletes to watch.
Jason Dunkerley will attempt to qualify for his fifth Paralympics, where he has won five medals over a distinguished career. He is running the T11 1500-metre and 5000-metre races in Edmonton. If he makes this team, he should be considered a contender for the podium as he medaled in both these races at the London Games four years ago.
Calgary’s Jennifer Brown is also worth watching as she is the Canadian record holder the F38 shot put and is also competing in the discus throw this week.
Michelle Stilwell continues to be a dominant force in T52 wheelchair racing, while also balancing her career as an MLA in the B.C. government. She is a three-time Paralympic gold medalist and the current world record holder for the 100-metre distance.
Becky Richter will be worth watching in Saturday’s F-51 club throw event, as she won gold in the club throw at the Parapan Ams and is definitely capable of earning a medal in Rio.
A dark horse to watch is 21-year-old George Quarcoo, who has shown in his short three-year career that he has a chance to be a star short-distance sprinter. The T12 runner is set a Canadian record in the 200-metre race, and he earned two top-10 finishes at last year’s Parapan Ams, including the 100-metres, which he will also run this week.
The biggest name not participating at the trials is T53 wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos, the reigning world champion in the 100-metre, 200-metre and 800-metre races. Already on the Paralympic team, he will be skipping the competition as he prepares for Brazil, where he will be a huge medal threat.
The para-athletic trials run Thursday to Sunday. While the Canadian track and field team for the Olympics will be named next Monday, the final Paralympic squad won’t be announced until July 25th.
Stay tuned to reportonrio.com over the new few days to catch all the latest news from the trials.
Photo credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee