12 Days of Triumph: Riech follows a family tradition of excellence

Canadian Paralympic Committee

December 19, 2019

In 2019 Riech has proven he is one of the top Para runners in the world


For this holiday season, we will be celebrating some of our favourite sport memories from throughout the year. Canada’s Para athletes achieved a lot in 2019, and we will be remembering one performance each day for 12 days. 

Despite the challenges he has faced in his life so far, middle distance runner Nathan Riech never doubted he would continue a tradition of family excellence in sport.

To recap, his father Todd Riech competed at the 1996 Olympics in javelin for the USA; his mother Ardin Tucker was a pole vaulter for Canada; his grandfather Jim Harrison played eight years in the NHL with the Maple Leafs, Blackhawks and Bruins … and there were more in equestrian, baseball and rugby at the national team and pro levels.

Of course, anybody who excels in sports knows that never giving up is the “Modus Operandi’’ of every great athlete. Therefore, Riech surely had inherited that mindset naturally not to mention that it was firing from the many factions of his family.

In 2019, Riech has certainly proven he is one of the top Para runners in the world. He triumphed in the men’s T38 1500-m at both the World Para Athletics Championships and the Parapan American Games in meet record time. He was competing at both events for the very first time. The victories showed that his breakthrough success in 2018 was no fluke.

Earlier this year, he lowered his 1500-m world record to 3:57.00 at a meet in Burnaby, B.C. and also holds, as of December 2019, the 800-m world record at 1:57.78, set in 2018.

It was a freak accident at age 10 that changed Nathan Riech’s world. He was playing golf with some friends and a player from another group whacked a ball from 150 yards away which accidently hit Reich in the back of his head. He was diagnosed with a brain injury which affected the right side of his body.

Now he is one of Canada’s top gold medal contenders for Tokyo. He’s ready for the challenge.

“If there’s pressure on you, that means you’re doing something right,” said Riech. “When anyone is trying to do big things, it’s part of it and I think I’m the one putting pressure on myself rather than anyone else.”

12 Days of Triumph: Frederique Turgeon
12 days of Triumph: Stefan Daniel
12 days of Triumph: Rob Shaw
12 days of Triumph: Sandrine Hamel
12 days of Triumph: Women’s wheelchair basketball team
12 days of Triumph: Brent Lakatos
12 days of Triumph: Brian McKeever 

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