Six Canadians in Dubai for Para athletics Grand Prix season opener

Canadian Paralympic Committee

February 12, 2024

Austin Smeenk to compete in three events

Austin Smeenk

DUBAI – Austin Smeenk of Oakville, Ont. leads a six-member Canadian team at the star studded Dubai Grand Prix in Para athletics which will get underway on Tuesday. The meet was delayed a day due to bad weather on Monday.

Smeenk, a 26-year-old veteran wheelchair racer born with spastic paraplegia, produced a fantastic 2023 season to clearly establish himself as a top medal contender for the 2024 Paralmypic Games in Paris. 

At the world championships last summer, also in Paris, Smeenk took silver in the T34 100-metre and bronze in the T34 400m. He narrowly missed the podium in the 800m placing fourth. He also set Canadian records in those three events including the 400 and 800 in Paris.

The two-time Paralympian will race those distances in Dubai beginning with the 100m heats on Tuesday.

The other veteran on the squad is middle distance runner Liam Stanley of Victoria. He is slated for the men’s T38 1500 as he also aims for a third Paralympic Games participation this summer. Also 26 and a two-time Paralympian, Stanley concluded 2023 with a silver medal in the 1500m at the Parapan American Games.

Also in Dubai are world championship team members Cody Fournie of Victoria in the men’s T52 wheelchair 100m and 200m races and Nandini Sharma of Brampton, Ont., in the women’s T54 100 and 400.

Three-time Parapan American Games team member Isaiah Christophe of Brampton will race in the men’s T54 100 and 400, and Katie Pegg of Toronto is entered in the women’s F46 shotput.

This major event will see 573 athletes from 71 nations compete over the four days. They will be competing for vital world ranking points ahead of the Kobe 2024 World Para Athletics Championships in May and the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in August. 

The star-studded line-up includes legends such as Switzerland’s Marcel Hug, a six-time Paralympic champion, who will be challenged by legendary British wheelchair racer David Weir. With 10 Paralympic medals to his name, Weir is one of the most successful Para athletes in history and will make the men’s 400m T54 (which includes Christophe) the highlight of the championships in his first appearance in Dubai. 

On the women’s side, British wheelchair racing legends Catherine Debrunner (women’s 400m, 800m T53) and Hannah Cockroft (women’s 100m, 800m T34) will be looking to continue their good form in Dubai. They have already started the season with gold medals at the 12th Sharjah International Open Para Athletics Meeting 2024.

Tyler Turner a double champion at World Cup

Tyler Turner, who made history at the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games as Canada’s first Para snowboard champion, continues to maintain himself at the top in his sport.

Last week at the Para snowboard World Cup in Pyha, Finland, Turner won the gold medal in both snowboard cross races. 

‘’Back to back World Cup wins!” Turner posted on his Instagram page. ‘’An unreal finish to a great week of racing here in Finland!!”

His archrival Mike Schultz from the U.S. responded in the comments: ‘’Awesome racing this week Ty, congratulations on wins! Don’t get too comfortable on that top step. Lol. See you in Italy.’’

Para alpine skiing champion Mac Marcoux retires

After more than a decade on Canada’s national Para alpine skiing team, Mac Marcoux announced his retirement last Thursday from competitive ski racing. 

In his career, Marcoux claimed five world championship titles, 52 World Cup podiums and six Paralympic medals, including two gold.

Marcoux competed in the men’s visually impaired category, with a series of guides beginning with his brother Billie Joe, followed by Robin Femy, Jack Leitch, and Tristan Rodgers. 

Marcoux made an instant impact on the world stage in a career that was highlighted at the 2017 World Championships where he won gold in four of his five races. The 2019-2020 season was highlighted by a 50th career World Cup podium after a giant slalom victory with Rodgers. The pair won all eight races they entered on the circuit that season which was cut short by the pandemic.

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