A Paralympic Preview: Track

With the Paralympic Games rapidly approaching, Report On Rio will preview every event that has a Canadian team competing in Brazil — featuring past results, schedules, rosters, and expectations.

Chantal Petitclerc wins gold in the 200 metre race at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Chantal Petitclerc wins gold in the 200 metre race at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Canada has mixed with the medals in para athletics at every Paralympic Games since 1968. Wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc has reached the podium more than any other Canadian track Paralympian with 21 medals in all. As Chef de Mission in Brazil, Petitclerc will lead the full Canadian squad to Rio in search of some more success.

In this preview, we focus on the track, which is divided into sprint events (100m, 200m, 400m), middle distance (800m, 1500m), long distance (5,000m, 10,000m), and relay races (4x100m, 4x400m) in addition to one road event, the marathon. The Pentathlon, which includes track and field events, will be covered in the Field preview later this week.

Interesting Fact: At the 1964 Tokyo Games, a 60 metre wheelchair race was included for the first time. This remained the only wheelchair racing distance until the 1976 Games in Toronto, when the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m events were introduced.

Canada’s para-athletics lineup for the 2016 Summer Paralympics was named less than a month before the Games and it features plenty of new faces.

Fifteen of the 24-athlete track and field delegation are making their Games debut in Rio. Just six of the 15 men, and three of the nine ladies named to this team competed at the London 2012 Games.

Meet the Team

16 of the 24-member team will compete on the track in Rio plus Josh Karanja, who acts as guide runner for Jason Dunkerley. Returning to Paralympic action are 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.)

Brent Lakatos

Lakatos, who has been to three Paralympic Games, holds World Championship titles in the 100-metre, 200-metre and 800-metre distances, and on the back of the three gold medals he won at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, expect to see 36-year-old on the podium at least once in Rio.  At London 2012, he secured silver medals in the 200, 400 and 800-metre events.

Find out more about Lakatos in this special Report on Rio feature story.

Jason Dunkerly will be making his fifth appearance at the Paralympics, where he has won five medals over a distinguished career. He medaled in the 1500-metre and 5000-metre races at the London Games four years ago so don’t bet against him adding to his collection.

Check out Report on Rio’s feature story about Dunkerley’s dominant Parapan Ams performance.

Michelle Stilwell

Stilwell was Canada’s lone track & field gold medalist four years ago, claiming victory in the T52 wheelchair 200-metre race. Now balancing her career as an MLA in the B.C. government, the 42-year-old is the current 100-metre world record holder – Stilwell took silver in the event in London.

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.

Toronto, ON - Aug 12 2015 - Guillaume Ouellet receives his Gold Medal for the Men's 1500m T13 in the CIBC Athletics Stadium during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)
Guillaume Ouellet

A newcomer expected to make noise on the track is Guillaume Ouellet (Victoriaville, Que.), as he is the reigning world champion in the T13 5000-metre race and he won gold in the 1500 at the Parapan Ams. The 29-year-old emerged onto the international scene in 2013 with an impressive fourth place 1500-metre showing 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 track team is as follows:

Name Hometown Class Event(s) Coach(es)
*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
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
*Curtis Thom Mississauga, ON T54 400m/4x400m Bob Schrader
Female athletes
*Ilana Dupont Saskatoon, SK T53 100m/400m/800m Rick Reelie
*Michelle Stilwell Parksville, BC T52 100m/400m Peter Lawless
Marissa Papaconstantinou Toronto, ON T44 100m/200m Geoff Standen
*Diane Roy Sherbrooke, QC T54 400m/800m/1500m/5000m Jean Laroche

 *Denotes previous Paralympic Games experience

Photos courtesy of Canadian Paralympic Commitee

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