Bianca Borgella emerges as new star in Canadian Para athletics

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 26, 2024

Canada’s top Para athletics athletes will compete this week at Bell Track and Field Trials in Montreal.

Canadian visually impaired sprinter Bianca Borgella celebrates following a race at the 2023 World Para athletics Championships.

MONTREAL – Since the last Paralympic Games in Tokyo, a new star has emerged in Canadian Para athletics.

Her name is Bianca Borgella, a 21-year-old bio medical sciences and neurology student from Ottawa. Her talents and those of other top Canadian Para athletes will be on display at the Bell Track and Field Trials which ruins until Sunday at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex in Montreal.

Borgella made her international breakthrough last year at the Para athletics world championships in Paris, the same city that will host this year’s Games.

The visually impaired sprinter won silver in the 200m in 25 seconds flat and bronze in the 100m in 12.16, both in Canadian record times in the women’s T13 category.

She hasn’t slowed down since.

At a meet last month in London, Ont., she clocked 11.92 seconds in the 100 to better her national mark, and 24.39 in the 200. The 200 time was not ratified due to a +2.2 wind condition.

‘’I’ve been focusing more on minor things, more technique work,’’ said Borgella, currently ranked number-two in the world in the 100. ‘’I had a really good indoor season and to open up the outdoor season with some great times, is a step up from last year. I’m getting the results that I want.’’

Leading up to this week’s trials, Borgella says it’s been important to compete regularly in her preparations.

In 2024 she has raced at events in Sherbrooke, Ottawa, Montreal, Windsor, Baton Rouge, and London.

‘’I want to make sure I’m on top of everything. I’m really excited about racing on this track which I hear is ideal for sprinters.  I’m ready to lay it all out.’’

Borgella, who was born in Tampa and moved to Canada as a youngster, was developed at the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club and, being a sprinter, made a quick impression.

‘’ I think the moment I realised that I had the potential was when I was competing side by side with able bodied athletes and getting times very similar to them,’’ she recalled.  ‘’Then someone said you’d be really good as a Para athlete.

‘’The coaches said if I did the work, I could make it happen.’’

It should be noted, that this weekend, Borgella has also qualified to race in the women’s 100m able-bodied race.

Borgella was born with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare type of inherited eye disorder that causes severe vision loss at birth. However some vision does return and eventually stabilizes at a certain level.

‘’When running I kind of just see the finish line, I know that I’m staying in my lane and where I need a be,’’ she says about her full flight experience. ‘’I just can’t see really small details. So obviously, when I cross the line, I look towards the board. I’m like, I don’t know what time that was. So I kind of just like, I walk away nonchalantly. So someone’s like, yeah, that was a personal best. I’m like, Oh, I guess that’s cool.’’

Generally, Borgella admits she’s unsure about her performance when it concludes.

‘’I always feel like it’s bad,’’ she admitted. ‘’ It’s just an insecurity of mine, that I always think I should be better. But when I’m told to celebrate, I celebrate.’’

At the 2023 worlds in Paris, Canada earned 14 medals (two gold, seven silver and five bronze) for its best showing since 2013.

Joining Borgella this week in the Para events are world championship medallists Nate Riech of Victoria, who earned his second consecutive world title in the T38 1,500 metres, blade runner Marissa Papaconstantinou of Toronto, wheelchair racer Austin Smeenk of Mississauga, Ont., and thrower Renee Foessel of London, Ontario. Smeenk, has been Canada’s hottest Para athletics athlete this year, breaking world records in both the T34 400m and 800m.

Para events get underway Thursday morning with qualifying in the wheelchair 400m races and the first finals are at 4 p.m.

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will begin with the Opening Ceremony on August 28 and continue through September 8, with coverage of the Games on CBC and CBC Sports and Radio-Canada.

We encourage you to join our CAN Crew cheer squad so that you receive the latest information about the Canadian Paralympic Team on the road to Paris directly to your email inbox. Join today!

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