Two young rivals from the Toronto-based I Be Fast Track Club teamed up to provide some compelling drama at the para-athletic trials in Edmonton on Saturday night.
Peter Snider (Waterloo, Ont.) ultimately topped fellow ’94 track runner George Quarcoo (Toronto, Ont.) in a 100-metre race that had to be determined by a photo finish. Snider crossed the finish line in 11.55 — Quarcoo finished one hundredth of a second later.
This dramatic victory will not qualify Snider — a gold medalist in long jump at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games — for the Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) does not allow athletes with a T20 classification (intellectual disability) to compete in the 100-metre sprint. In fact, T20 athletes are only permitted to compete in the 400-metre and 1500-metre races.
Saturday’s short distance race at Foote Field did have Paralympic implications for Quarcoo, however. As a T12 athlete (blind or visually impaired), he is eligible to compete in the 100-metre race in Rio. Quarcoo’s time was shy of the A-class qualifying standard (11.40), but he did meet the B-class benchmark time (11.90).
Quarcoo will just have to wait and see if he is nominated to the Canadian Paralympic Team by Athletics Canada. The announcement is expected to take place on Monday, July 25. Considering he set a Canadian record by completing the 100-metre in 11.49 seconds in the preliminary round, the 21-year-old has an excellent shot at being invited to Rio.
Men’s 1500-metre Wheelchair Race
The top three finishers in the men’s 1500-metre wheelchair race already qualified for the Paralympics prior to the trials. The prize that was up for grabs in this race was a Canadian championship.
Alexandre Dupont (Clarenceville, Que.), a competitor at the 2012 Paralympics, prevailed over fellow London Paralympian Joshua Cassidy (Guelph, Ont.) and first-time qualifier Tristan Smyth (Lake Country, B.C.). Dupont (pictured above) crossed the finish line at 3:21.73, Cassidy wrapped up in 3:22.79, and Smyth completed the track in 3:24.10.
None of the three T54 wheelchair racers’ results at the trials were on par with the Paralympic standard. That is perhaps to be expected with this event being a Paralympic tune-up rather than a qualifying tournament. Expect their times to improve to under 3:09 at the Rio Games.
Women’s Seated Discus
Moncton New Brunswick’s Christel Robichaud completed some unfinished business by throwing the disk 15.23 metres to capture her first Canadian championship. The 23-year-old finished in second place to Becky Richter last year at this event.
Her throw will not qualify her for the Paralympics as it falls short of the B-class standard of 19.00 metres.
A nice story from this event is the performance of 66-year-old Marta Sandoval Gustafson (Toronto, Ont). Gustafson, who was born in Tampico, Mexico, finished second to Robichaud with a solid throw of 9.25 metres.
Men’s Club Throw
Brett Babcock (Kingston, Ont.) defended his the Canadian title he won last year by tossing the club 17.17 metres. The 22-year-old F51 athlete’s throw does meet B-class qualification standard (17.00).
Ryan Schweizer (Vancouver, B.C.) finished in second place with a 14.27-metre throw.
Men’s Seated Discus
Grand Forks, North Dakota native Dakoda Darling handily won the men’s seated discus with a 23.85-metre hurl. Sedrick Skabar (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) had the second-longest throw (15.49 metres)
Women’s T33/T34/T51/T52 200-metre Wheelchair Race
T34 racer Djami Dallo (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) captured the Canadian title in decisive fashion as she finished over eight seconds quicker than Toronto, Ont. native Jessica Tinney (44.55).
Women’s T53/T54 200-metre Wheelchair Race
Ilana Dupont (Clarenceville, Que.), who will be competing for Canada at the Paralympics in the 400-metre T53 wheelchair race, eked out a tight victory over Jessica Lewis (born in Bermuda) in the 200-metre distance on Saturday.
Dupont (right), a competitor at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, finished the track in 31.27 — the Bermudian crossed the finish line at 31.32.
Men’s T34/T51/T52/T53 200-metre Wheelchair Race
Austin Smeenk (Oakville, Ont.), a T34 800-metre Rio qualifier, topped the podium in this eight-athlete competition with a finishing time of 27.85. Cambridge, N.S. product Ben Brown finished the race in 28.46 to earn silver.
Photo Credits: Instagram user issajenko and Canadian Paralympic Committee