Canada’s para-athletics lineup for the 2016 Summer Paralympics has plenty of new faces.
Fifteen members of Canada’s 24-athlete track and field delegation heading to Rio in late August are making their Games debut in early September. Just six of the 15 men, and three of the nine ladies named to this team competed at the London 2012 Games.
Headlining the returnees is T53 wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos (Dorval, Que.), T52 wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell (Parksville, B.C.), T11 5000-metre runner Jason Dunkerley (Ottawa, Ont.) and T54 wheelchair racer Diane Roy (Lac des Aigles, Que.)
Lakatos, 36, is expected to contend for multiple gold medals due to his international domination of short-distance and middle-distance wheelchair racing following London.
He is the reigning International Paralympic Committee World Champion for the 100-metre, 200-metre and 800-metre distances, and he won three gold medals at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto (100-metres, 400-metres and 800-metres). He is making his fourth appearance at the Paralympic Games. In 2012, he captured silver medals in the 200, 400 and 800-metre events.
“I can’t wait for Rio,” said Lakatos. “These are my fourth Paralympic Games, and each one has been so different. Athens was a blur, Beijing was bitter disappointment and London was my first taste of the podium. This will be the first time I head in as a favourite.”
Stilwell, 42, was Canada’s lone track and field gold medalist four years ago. She captured the top podium position in the T52 wheelchair 200-metre race and earned runner-up status in the 100-metre race. The MLA for the B.C. government enters Rio ranked first in the world for her classification.
Dunkerley, 38, is appearing at his fifth Paralympic Games. The long-distance runner and his guide Josh Karanja teamed up to win silver in the T11 5000-metre and bronze in the 1500-metre run. The five-time Paralympic medalist is looking to complete some unfinished business in Brazil as he has never won a gold medal in his decorated career. Perhaps being in Rio will bring good fortune to Dunkerley as he won two gold medals (800-metre and 1500-metre races) at the 2007 Parapan Ams in this major Brazilian city.
Roy, 45, is appearing at the Summer Paralympics for an incredible sixth time. She will be seeking a return to podium form after missing a top-three spot in each of her four T54 wheelchair races in London. Roy, nicknamed the “Warhorse”, has achieved success at short, medium and long distances. At Beijing, she won silver in the 5000-metre showdown, and bronze in the 400-metre and 800-metre race.
A newcomer expected to make noise is Guillaume Ouellet (Victoriaville, Que.), 29, as he is the reigning world champion in the T13 5000-metre race and he won gold in the 1500 at the Parapan Ams. Ouellet emerged onto the international scene in 2013 with an impressive fourth place 1500-metre showing at the world championships.
Pamela LeJean (Cape Breton, N.S.), 31, is another rookie on this Canadian squad that is expected to challenge for first place in Rio as she occupies the top spot in the F53 shot put world rankings for women. The former wheelchair basketball player attained a shot put gold medal at the Parapan Ams, and silver at the world championships.
The para-athletics competition will be jointly staged at Fort Copacabana and Olympic stadium from Sept. 8 to 18.
The complete 24-athlete track and field Canadian Paralympic Team is as follows:
|*Josh Cassidy||Port Elgin, ON||T54||800m/1500m/5000m||Jenny Archer/Amanda Fader|
|Mitchell Chase||Pickering, ON||T38||1500m||Craig Blackman|
|Shayne Dobson||Campbellton, NB||T37||1500m||Jean-Marc Dorion / Steve LeBlanc|
|*Jason Dunkerley||Ottawa, ON||T11||1500m||Ian Clark|
|*Alex Dupont||Clarenceville, QC||T54||400m/800m/1500m/4x400m||Rick Reelie|
|*Josh Karanja||Ottawa, ON||Guide runner for Jason Dunkerley||Ian Clark|
|*Brent Lakatos||Dorval, QC||T53||100m/400m/800m/4x400m|
|Jean-Philippe Maranda||Ste-Aurélie, QC||T53||100m/400m/800m/4x400m||Rick Reelie|
|*Alister McQueen||Calgary, AB||F44||Javelin||Kim Cousins|
|Guillaume Ouellet||Victoriaville, QC||T13||1500m/5000m||Félix-Antoine Lapointe|
|Austin Smeenk||Oakville, ON||T34||100m/800m||Ken Thom|
|Tristan Smyth||Maple Ridge, BC||T54||1500m/4x400m||Kelly Smith|
|Liam Stanley||Victoria, BC||T37||1500m||Bruce Deacon|
|Kevin Strybosch||London, ON||F37||Discus||John Allan|
|*Curtis Thom||Mississauga, ON||T54||400m/4x400m||Bob Schrader|
|Jenn Brown||Calgary, AB||F38||Discus||Kim Cousins|
|*Ilana Dupont||Saskatoon, SK||T53||100m/400m/800m||Rick Reelie|
|Eva Fejes||Salt Spring Island, BC||Sport Assistant for Ness Murby|
|Renée Foessel||Orangenville, ON||F38||Discus||Ken Hall|
|Pamela Le Jean||Cape Breton, NS||F53||Shot put||Ueli Albert|
|Ness Murby||Salt Spring Island, BC||F11||Discus||Sheldan Gmitroski|
|Marissa Papaconstantinou||Toronto, ON||T44||100m/200m||Geoff Standen|
|*Diane Roy||Sherbrooke, QC||T54||400m/800m/1500m/5000m||Jean Laroche|
|*Michelle Stilwell||Parksville, BC||T52||100m/400m||Peter Lawless|
*Denotes previous Paralympic Games experience
Photos courtesy of Canadian Paralympic Commitee