2023 World Para Athletics Championships: Paris, je t’aime
The Canadian para athletics team arrived in the French capital, the City of Lights, and the next Paralympic host city, with a daunting challenge and great expectations.
This first World Para Athletics Championships was the first since 2019 and represented the best chance to earn crucial qualification spots at the Paralympic Games next summer, and a rare chance to measure themselves against the world’s best.
Finishing strong is the hallmark of a strong athletics performance and Canada certainly did that, registering four medals on the final day of competition: 1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze.
For the second time in a row, Nate Riech was crowned world champion, pulling away from the field in the last 50 metres for a convincing T38 1500 metre title, with a time of
“I was up front way harder than I thought, so I tried to really crank up that pace. Thankfully, it opened up for me in the last 100 metres and I may have lost my mind with a few metres to go. It’s one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had as part of Team Canada,” Riech said. “I can’t wait for Paris 2024!”
Not long after, Renee Foessel secured a silver medal in the women’s F38 discus final – with her best throw of 37.01 metres bested only by a world record performance.
“It was a representation of what my coach and I have manifested the past few years and we put our plan into execution,” Foessel said. “There are no words to explain the feeling right now. I’m beyond proud of what my coach and I have done. I’m getting emotional because of how much we have put into this over the years and I cannot wait for Paris next year.”
Noah Vucsics got the Monday medal parade started by scoring silver in the men’s T20 long jump in the morning session. His jump of 7.35 metres was a new Americas record, and only 5 cm short of the gold medallist.
“To be here and compete with these guys – my first World Championships – and walk away with a medal … I’m pretty excited about that,” Vucsics said. “I’m just a bit disappointed because I wasn’t consistent getting over 7 metres, but I did really well on my first one, stayed in the mix and pushed to the podium.”
Marissa Papaconstantinou earned her second bronze medal this week, stepping onto the podium when her time of 27.23 seconds in the women’s T64 200 metres stood up after the 3rd-place finisher was disqualified.
“It feels great to be bringing home another medal for Canada, but I am really bummed for my competitor. She fought hard to the finish. I got disqualified with the relay team last night, so I know how tough it is,” Papaconstantinou said. “I think I put out the best race I could have. I fought hard to the finish line and I gave everything I had.”
Team Canada By The Numbers
The Canadian team won 14 medals (2 gold, 7 silver, 5 bronze), won by nine different medallists, representing our country’s best World Para Athletics Championships since 2013. In so doing, the team also nailed down 10 qualification spots for Paris 2024 and cemented their status as a team to watch next summer.
Canadian athletes set four Americas Records and 12 Canadian Records in Paris. The 14 medals won this year is the most won by Canada since Lyon 2013 (15 medals) and the nine different medallists is the most since Beijing 2008 (10 medallists).
GOLD – Brent Lakatos, T53 800 metres
GOLD – Nate Riech, T38 1500 metres
SILVER – Bianca Borgella, T13 200 metres
SILVER – Austin Smeenk, T34 100 metres
SILVER – Zach Gingras, T38 400 metres
SILVER – Brent Lakatos, T54 1500 metres
SILVER – Brent Lakatos, T53 400 metres
SILVER – Noah Vucsics, T20 Long Jump
SILVER – Renee Foessel, F38 Discus
BRONZE – Guillaume Ouellet, T13 5000 metres
BRONZE – Bianca Borgella, T13 100 metres
BRONZE – Austin Smeenk, T34 400 metres
BRONZE – Marissa Papaconstantinou, T64 100 metres
BRONZE – Marissa Papaconstantinou, T64 200 metres