After piling up the medals in 2015, Calgary native Stefan Daniel will chase a Paralympic medal in 2016.
Daniel is one of the world’s best in para-triathlon, a sport that will make it’s debut at the Paralympic games in Rio this summer. Daniel booked his ticket to the Games by winning gold at the Para-Triathlon World Championships in Chicago last fall.
It was one of three victories at international events last season for the rising para-triathlon star, who just recently celebrated his nineteenth birthday.
Now he’s less than six months away from competing in his first Paralympic Games.
“It’s like, ‘holy crap, this is getting close’ and it’s really exciting,” Daniel said. “The buildup is going to be huge, and I’m really looking forward to every part of it.”
Daniel was born with bilateral radial club hands, with his right arm significantly more affected. But he learned from an early age, it wasn’t going to slow him down athletically.
“When I was younger, I always thought, ‘hey maybe I can never be as good as any of my peers, I’m always going to be a little slower,’ and as I’ve progressed, I started to see I actually can compete with them.”
Daniel is not only competing, but excelling. Adding to his medal haul in 2015, he also won the able-bodied Junior National Championships in Quebec.
“It was the first year I think we realized that hey, you know what, he can actually compete against able-bodied kids,” his father, Chris Daniel, said. “Hard work and dedication is something he absolutely has in spades, and I think that’s the main reason why he’s been able to have some success on both sides.”
Even more than standing on the start line at the Paralympics, it’s racing his peers that motivates Daniel.
“I don’t see myself as a para-athlete, I see myself as a regular athlete,” Daniel said.
A disability by race classification, but certainly not in mentality.
“I don’t really care about it anymore…it’s not an excuse anymore,” he said.
Daniel’s season begins next week in Florida, where he’ll attempt to qualify for the Junior World Championship held in Mexico later this year.
© 2016 Shaw Media