OTTAWA – Several Paralympic medallists including blade runner Marissa Papaconstantinou and hand cyclist Charles Moreau are scheduled to compete this week at the national championships in athletics and cycling which take place in Langley, B.C. and Edmonton.
The Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships start on Thursday for the Para athletes with the first event of the day the qualifying heats in the men’s 400-m wheelchair races which will feature Paralympians Austin Smeenk in the men’s T34 category and Alexandre Dupont in the T54.
Dupont, a three-time Paralympian, was over in Europe last month where he faced many of the world’s top racers at Grand Prix events in Switzerland including multiple Paralympic Games champion Marcel Hug of Switzerland.
‘’It went better than expected,’’ Dupont told Sportcom. ‘’I was less than a second behind Hug in my last race 1500 race and had a strong final sprint. If there had been another lap I could have completed it without any problems.’’
Both Smeenk and Papaconstantinou, a leg amputee who runs with a blade prosthetic are both back from medal performances on the Grand Prix circuit,
The first Para final is later in the day with the men’s and 100-m wheelchair finals back-to-back featuring Jessica Frotten who competed at her first Paralympic Games last summer in Tokyo.
Para events continue each day through to Sunday as the athletes look to make early impressions for the 2023 season which will include the world championships at the Paralympic Games venue in Paris and the Parapan American Games in Chile.
For more information on The Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships visit: https://athletics.ca/events/2022-canadian-track-field-championships/
Para cycling titles up for grabs
In Edmonton, the Canadian Road Championships return to the Alberta capital for the first time in 12 years which include the time trial and road events for the Para cyclist. It’s an important event for the Para riders with the world championships later this summer on home soil in Baie-Comeau, Que., from August 11-14.
The Championships will begin on Thursday, June 23, with the Individual time trial for all categories, which will be held in Beaumont on the outskirts of Edmonton, over distances ranging from 12.86 to 48 kilometres.
Saturday and Sunday will see the road race titles awarded with riders completing a 14.4-kilometer loop around the city of Edmonton. The race starts and finishes in front of the Alberta Legislature Building. Eight different para-cycling categories will kick off the competitions on Saturday, completing between 28.8 and 72 kilometers.
Among the favorites are Paralympians Moreau, Marie-Ève Croteau, Joey Desjardins, Marie-Claude Molnar, Keely Shaw and Shelley Gautier looking to add 2022 Canadian champion to their long list of accomplishments.
Moreau and Desjardins compete in the men’s H3 handcycle category which is among the most competitive in the sport right now.
“Our category is so competitive it’s crazy – we’re so close,” noted Desjardins, who raced at two World Cup events in Europe last month, told TheReview.ca. “My teammate (Moreau) was fifth and I was 39 seconds back of him and I got 14th. Our times are so close in our category that on any given day you could be Top 5 or 20th (internationally).”
Also watch for Tokyo 2020 medallist Keely Shaw in C4 category who reached new heights at those World Cups in Europe with medals in both time trial and road races.
For more information on the the Canadian Road Championships visit: https://cyclingcanada.ca/event/2022-canadian-road-championships-elite-jr-para/
With files from Athletics Canada and Cycling Canada