The Canadian Paralympic Committee and Victoria-based Triathlon Canada announced today an experienced group consisting of one man and three women who will be the first Canadians ever to toe the start line in para-triathlon at a Paralympic Games, September 10-11, 2016.
Calgary-based teenage sensation Stefan Daniel will compete in the men’s PT4 division; Winnipeg’s Chantal Givens will be swimming, biking and running in the women’s PT4 category; while Ottawa’s Christine Robbins and her guide, Sasha Boulton, will looking for a medal-winning performance in the women’s PT5 classification for athletes with a visual impairment. Olympic triathlete Carolyn Murray (St. Albert, Alta.) will lead the team as head coach.
“Our sport is still relatively young in Canada, but we have been focused on developing our program with a clear mission for our Paralympic debut in Rio – to win medals, said Jono Hall, high-performance director, Triathlon Canada, who added the national body has been diligent in its recruitment of para-triathletes across the country while also holding centralized training camps over the last three years in preparation for Rio.
“Each of these athletes has demonstrated their fitness and elite level of racing by delivering international medal-winning performances this year. We know these four will do Canada proud in Rio.”
Triathlon boomed across Canada after Simon Whitfield shocked the world to win the first-ever Olympic race in 2000. Canada’s reigning para-triathlon world champion, Stefan Daniel, is looking to replicate the feat for sport in the Paralympic world.
“Representing Canada has always been extremely rewarding, but going to the Paralympics is going to be a totally new and exciting experience,” said Daniel. “I’ve dreamed of representing Canada at the highest level, and I could not be more excited to do it in Rio.”
Born with bilateral radial club hands with his right arm significantly more affected, Daniel has put together an impressive resume over the last four years.
After winning a bronze and silver medal in his first two trips to the World Championships, the 19-year-old Daniel celebrated the gold one year ago in Chicago which capped off a dream season where he racked up three golds and one silver while competing in four World Para-triathlon races last year. Topping that off, he also defied all odds to capture the junior men’s able-bodied National Championship crown in Magog, Que.
Hot on Daniel’s heels in the pursuit of a medal-winning performance is 37-year-old Chantal Givens, who recently booked her ticket to Rio with her first career World Para-triathlon victory in Spain.
The result was a huge breakthrough for Givens, who got her start in the sport while volunteering at the 2001 Triathlon World Championships in Edmonton. Regularly placing in the top-five of elite international events, the two-time Canadian champion’s quest to achieve excellence in the sport has continued ever since, and she is now determined to reach the podium each time the start gun goes off.
“I actually got the official news after completing a beautiful swim and trail run in Victoria. The last time I was in the B.C. rainforest was during my last sailing trip with my late father. I felt as though he was there with me to share the exciting news. My emotions are running high and I’m feeling ready to buckle down for the last big training block,” said Givens.
“Growing up, I had the mindset of being the best that I can be and to not be afraid to work for it. My Dad had told me that we appreciate things more the harder we work for them, and I can definitely say that I appreciate this opportunity.”
Two women from the Nation’s Capital will also hope to see the Canadian flag raised above the podium in the women’s visually impaired event.
An all-around gifted athlete and former elite equestrian rider, Christie Robbins, 38, brought a solid cycling background to triathlon when she began the sport three years ago. Robbins and her guide Sasha Boulton are no strangers to the international podium.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be selected,” said Robbins. “It is a dream come true to represent Canada at the Paralympics and to do it as part of a debut sport makes it even more special. I am so excited to see how para-triathlon will grow after being put on the world stage at the Rio Games,” said Robbins.
Boulton, 22, helped Robbins lock up her spot with a silver medal at the World Para-triathlon event in London earlier this year.
“As a guide to Christine, I never expected my dream to represent Canada at a Games to become a reality,” said Boulton. “Being alongside Christine as she accomplishes her goal is a very overwhelming feeling. I hope that as we step on the start line in Rio, fellow Canadians will share my sense of pride and hopefully we will inspire more Canadians to make the Paralympics a dream of their own.”
One of 22 summer sports on the Paralympic Games schedule September 7 to 18, 2016, the para-triathlon consists of a 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike course, and a five-kilometre run. Athletes with various disabilities take part in the sport’s different categories, including amputees, athletes with a visual impairment who compete with a guide, and athletes who use hand cycles and wheelchairs.
‘’It is wonderful that Canada will have such an accomplished presence in para-triathlon’s debut at the Paralympic Games,’’ said Team Canada’s Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc. ‘’The ability to excel in three sports requires tremendous dedication and versatility and this sport will be amazing to see at the Paralympic level.’’
“As the excitement grows for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, I know our talented athletes are ready for the first ever Paralympic triathlon competition,” said the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I commend the work done by Triathlon Canada to prepare the athletes named today to join Team Canada in Rio. We’re all behind you.”
Athlete and coach biographies are available at Paralympic.ca/athletes. Bios and high resolution photos can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/hcug29t
The athletes nominated to the Canadian Paralympic Team are as follows:
Stefan Daniel (Calgary, Alta.)
Chantal Givens (Winnipeg, Man.)
Christine Robbins (Ottawa, Ont.)
Sasha Boulton (Ottawa, Ont.) – guide to Christine Robbins
The nominated team will be supported by head coach Carolyn Murray (St. Albert, Alta.).