Sport is all in for Stefan Daniel’s family

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 11, 2021

Four-time world champion now man to beat in Tokyo


Like many kids, Stefan Daniel dreamed of being a hockey or football player, but sports such as running, swimming and even triathlon were in the family blood.

The four-time Para triathlon world champion recalls his first strides on the road and first laps in the pool as early as age eight. He was influenced by his father who he watched compete in the grueling Ironman triathlons throughout North America and his mother who competed in marathons including the big one in Boston.

‘’At that time I didn’t think it was that cool but actually kind of weird doing that,’’ recalls Daniel, one of Canada’s top medal hopes in Para triathlon at the Tokyo Paralympics set for August 24 to September 5. ‘’But eventually I started to like it, but it wasn’t until 2013 when it was announced it would be added to the Paralympics that I started to take triathlon more seriously.’’

Daniel was also an avid basketball and soccer player (his father was a professional soccer player in North America and Germany) when he was young in addition to his exploits in triathlon (he won the national able-bodied junior title in 2015). He is also one of the country’s top university cross country runners, winning the 2019 U Sports national title as a University of Calgary student. 

By age 12, Daniel’s daily schedule started with a 5 a.m. swimming practice, a full day at school, followed by more training after school. He was also running in local events such as the Okanagan half marathon with his mother.

Born with a right arm that is significantly shorter than his left arm, Daniel was not only influenced by his parents but also his older brother Christian, born with cerebral palsy. He showed Daniel the power and determination to overcome your disability to shine in sports.

‘’We started swimming at the same time, so he was 12, and he was always the hardest working one in the club,’’ said Stefan, a silver medallist at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. ‘’He always had a smile on his face and I was always frustrated because I was slower than my peers because of my disability.

‘’Having his influence really helped me believe that I could do anything and that’s the reason why I’m able to compete in able-bodied sport. Even today, even though he is retired, just having his calming influence is really helpful.’’

Financial resources were also a challenge for Daniel when he started in the sport. Today sponsors and equipment manufacturers seek out elite athletes like Daniel, but at the beginning it was the bank of Mom and Pop.

Thankfully his parents understood the power that sport could wield on their children.

‘’My parents had to work a lot to support me early in my triathlon career,’’ said Daniel. ‘’Bicycles and running shoes both for races and training can be expensive in particular. There are also the travel costs to attend events and camps.

‘’If it wasn’t for their support, I probably would have dropped it.”

For more stories about Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympians, visit

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