OTTAWA – When you look at Austin Smeenk’s results this year, you would assume he is almost having a breakthrough season and emerging as one of the best young Canadian wheelchair racers on the international circuit.
But after he completed his races, which included two victories, on Friday at the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships, Smeenk seems far from satisfied at the personal level with his performances.
‘’It’s been an off year,’’ admitted the 21-year-old from Oakville, Ont., who launched his track season last month with silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m in the T34 wheelchair races at the Swiss Open.
Smeenk was born with spastic paraplegia, a hereditary disease that causes progressive stiffness and contraction in the lower limbs. Off the track, he is studying electromechanical engineering technology.
‘’The truth is everybody is having a bit of an off year with no worlds or Games. So times aren’t where they should be so I don’t think the placements accurately reflect my situation.’’
On Friday, Smeenk won the 200m in 28.99 more than a full second ahead of Lee Leclerc of Montreal. Then later, he was fourth in the 800m which perhaps gave a better indication of his concerns. On Thursday he sped to victory in the 400m.
Other winners in Para athletics Friday included for the men: Ben Brown of Cambridge, N.S., in the T53 200m, Colin Mathieson of Winnipeg in the T54 200m, Brent Lakatos of Dorval, Que., in the wheelchair 800m and Alexandre Dupont of Clarenceville, Que., in the T54 800m.
The women’s victors included: Ilana Dupont of Clarenceville, Que., in the 200m wheelchair, Jessica Frotten of Whitehorse in the 800m wheelchair and Marissa Papaconstantinou of Toronto in the 100m.