Quick facts

Birthdate

February 24, 1997

Birthplace

Oakville, ON

Residence

Oakville, ON

Sport

Para Athletics

Classification

T34

Experience

Rio 2016

Tokyo 2020

Wheelchair racer Austin Smeenk seems to make progress each season.

In 2019, Smeenk lowered Canadian records in the 100m, 400m, 800m and 1500m and capped the year with three top-five finishes at the IPC World Championships including fourth in the 800m.

In 2018 he kicked off the track season with silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m in the T34 wheelchair race at the Swiss Open.

He neared the world championship podium in 2017 with top-five finishes in the 100m and 200m. This came a year after he made his Paralympic debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where he made two finals in the 100m (6th) and 800m (8th).

In 2015, he was scheduled to compete in three T34 events at the Parapan American Games in Toronto. However, when he arrived at the athletes village to move in, he was told that all three of his events had been cancelled due to an insufficient number of competitors. 

Despite qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Smeenk decided not to compete at the event. Having discussed his options with his parents and coach (the late Ken Thom) he came to the conclusion that it would be too soon for him to compete at the highest level given his young age, especially as he was using a borrowed wheelchair at the time. 

Smeenk says having a disability shouldn’t deny anyone from playing sports or doing chores. He says there just needs to be an openness to trying and doing things differently.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

2016 Paralympic Games… 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 IPC World Championships

PERSONAL

Born with spastic paraplegia, a hereditary disease that causes progressive stiffness and contraction in the lower limbs. He’s able to walk short distances, ride a bicycle to go further distances and stand-up snowboard…  He has participated in many other sports, including sailing and sledge hockey… Studying electromechanical engineering technology…In 2014 he was presented with the Outstanding Male Track Events Performance of the Year Award by Athletics Ontario.

NOTABLE INTERNATIONAL RESULTS

  • 2019 IPC World Championships 800m 4th
  • 2019 IPC World Championships 100m 5th
  • 2019 IPC World Championships 400m 5th
  • 2018 Swiss Grand Prix 100m 2nd
  • 2018 Swiss Grand Prix 200m 3rd
  • 2017 IPC World Championships 100m 4th
  • 2017 IPC World Championships 200m 5th
  • 2017 IPC World Championships 400m 6th
  • 2017 IPC World Championships 800m 8th
  • 2016 Paralympic Games 100m 6th
  • 2016 Paralympic Games 800m 8th
  • 2015 IPC World Championships 400m 11th
  • 2013 IPC World Championships 100m 8th
  • 2013 IPC World Championships 200m 7th
  • 2013 IPC World Championships 400m 6th
  • 2013 IPC World Championships 800m 8th