Runner Michael Barber continues family tradition

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 28, 2024

Barber's father and great-great-uncle represented Canada on the international stage.

Canadian Para runner Michael Barber poses with family members following a race at the 2024 Athletics Canada Paralympic Trials.

MONTREAL – With his proud father beaming by his side after a superb race, Victoria’s Michael Barber hopes to one day compete at the Paralympic Games and continue an amazing family tradition.

Barber, who turns 24 next month, crossed the finish line first in an exciting Para men’s 1500m on Thursday night at the Bell Track and Field Trials which will help determine both of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic teams for Paris 2024.

The high winds and unseasonably cool weather made personal best times basically impossible to achieve but Barber showed great poise and patience to clock first and ranked third in the multi-class race in 4:09.14. He finished ahead of T38 world record holder Nate Riech whose time was 4:09.84 and Liam Stanley in 4:10.72.

Riech was ranked first because his time was closer to the world record in his class.

“It was an amazing result for me,” said Barber, ninth in his world championship debut last year with a Canadian record 3:58.64 and a silver medallist at his second Parapan Am Games in November. ‘’It really gives me a lot of confidence for my races later this season. I knew it was going to be slow and I was waiting until the last 200 to go.”

Barber’s father Gary Barber was a middle distance runner for Canada at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Michael was diagnosed with autism as a youth and his father was determined to continue to provide a normal life for the family and get Michael involved in sports.

‘’I’m proud of him for sure,” said Gary Barber. ‘’He ran hard and showed a lot of determination. It was a great race. To go one day to the Paralympics is a great goal to have and all Para athletes want to achieve that. This is a great journey for him, and we are thankful for the opportunities sports has provided to him.’’

In addition, Michael Barber’s great-great uncle Robert Tisdall won the gold in the 400m hurdles at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles for Ireland. Tisdall clocked a world record time of 51.7 seconds, which was not recognized under the rules of the time because he had hit a hurdle.

“The second-place runner also went under the world mark, so it’s probably the only time in history the man in second place is the fastest in the world,’’ said Gary Barber.

If Paris doesn’t work out for Michael, how special it would still be to make his Paralympic debut in Los Angeles (in 2028), the city where his great-great-uncle earned his biggest triumph.

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!

For more information on the Track and Field Trials:

Bell Track and Field Trials Hub


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