Canada leaves Para athletics worlds with 14 medals, its best showing since 2013 | CBC Sports
Canada wrapped up the World Para Athletics Championships with four medals Monday, including gold by runner Nate Riech, and 14 overall for its highest total since earning 15 in 2013.
Riech, 28, successfully defended his men’s T38 1,500-metre title from 2019, stopping the clock in four minutes 3.07 seconds at Charlety Stadium in Paris.
“Things opened up with 100 metres to go,” the Victoria resident told CBC Sports. “I’d say it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had being part of Team Canada, this culture, and I can’t wait for [the 2024 Paralympics].”
In 2018, he set world records in the men’s 800 and 1,500 at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Berlin.
Riech twice lowered his 1,500 mark in 2019 and 2021, which currently stands at 3:47.89. His 5,000 world record has stood since 2021.
WATCH | Riech reaches 1,500m finish line 1st in 4:03.07:
At the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, he clocked a Games record 3:58.92 in the men’s final and previously won races in the distance in record time at worlds and Parapan American Games.
“I didn’t know how long I would be in this sport,” he said. “I wasn’t having as much fun earlier [this] year and now I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had and want to be in the sport for as long as possible.”
The middle-distance runner suffered a traumatic brain injury at 10 years old while golfing with friends, as a player from another group accidentally struck him in the back of the head from 150 yards with a shot.
The injury affects the right side of Riech’s body, placing him in the T38 classification for athletes with coordination impairments to a low degree in the lower trunk and legs, entire body or down one side.
Liam Stanley, also from Victoria, was seventh in Monday’s competition in 4:09.28.
The Australian duo of Reece Langdon (4:04.30) and Angus Hincksman (4:05.18) rounded out the medal podium.
Long jumper Noah Vucsics and discus thrower Renee Danielle Foessel collected Canada’s sixth and seventh silver medals on Monday.
Vucsics’s personal-best leap of 7.35 metres on his first of six attempts in the men’s T20 event is a Canadian and Americas record.
WATCH | Vucsics picks up long jump bronze:
It is the first major championship event for the 23-year-old from Calgary who secured a qualification spot for the Paralympics next summer.
“That was definitely the biggest goal for me this year. I wasn’t expecting silver. The fourth spot is what I was working toward. Walking away with a silver medal I’m proud of myself.
“To finally be in this moment and execute when it matters most, to get a PB, that’s what I’m grateful for.”
Abdul Latif Romly of Malaysia won with a championship record jump of 7.40. He also boasts the world mark of 7.64 from Oct. 9, 2018.
Greek athlete Athanasios Prodromou jumped 7.12 for bronze.
The T20 events are for athletes with an intellectual impairment and they must use starting blocks and four-point stances in races of 400 metres or less.
Foessel, 28, posted a season-best throw of 37.01 on her fourth of five tries while fellow Canadian Jenn Brown was ninth in the 13-woman field.
WATCH | Silver medallist Foessel: ‘There’s no words to explain the feeling’:
South Africa’s Simone Kruger wowed the crowd with a world record 38.10 on her sixth and final attempt, while Na Mi of China was third (35.77).
“It was absolutely phenomenal, a representation of what my coach and I have invested the last few years,” said Foessel of Mississauga, Ont., and co-captain of the Canadian team.
“There’s no words to explain the feeling right now. I’m beyond proud of what my coach and I have done. I get emotional because we’ve put so much into these last few years and I cannot wait for Paris next year.”
Toronto’s Marissa Papaconstantinou ran a 27.23 SB in a slight headwind in the women’s T64 200 for athletes with the absence of one leg below the knee.
The 23-year-old was third of four finishers and happy with her performance but disappointed at the disqualification of Dutch athlete Marlene van Gansewinkel and Yaimillie Marie Diaz Colon of Puerto Rico.
“I think I [put forth] the best possible race I could have,” said Papaconstantinou, who ran a 12.95 PB in the 100 last Thursday. “I fought hard to the finish line and gave everything I have.
“I’m really bummed for Marlene. She fought hard to the finish. I got disqualified with the team last night in relays, so I know how tough it is and uncomfortable that might feel.”
WATCH | Papaconstantinou runs season-best time for 200m bronze:
Germany’s Irmgard Bensusan won in championship record time, clocking 26.82, followed by Kimberly Alkemade of the Netherlands in 27.06.
“This is the strongest team we’ve seen in years in Para athletics,” Foessel said. “To have the team come together and push towards next year, this is what sport is about. It’s being a strong team, being there for each other, sharing smiles, sharing moments.”
Other Canadian results:
- Michael Barber, men’s T20 1,500: 9th in 3:58.64 (personal best)
- Austin Smeenk. men’s T34 800: 4th in 1:40.19
- Cody Fournie, men’s T51 200: 6th in 42.00 (PB)
- Natalie Thirsk, women’s T38 400: 6th in 1:08.42 (PB)
WATCH | Day 9 highlights from Paris:
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