TORONTO – When she was 12 years old, Marissa Papaconstantinou was fitted with her first blade running prostheses. Since then she has propelled herself to the world’s elite in Paralympic sprint running.
The Canadian blade runner and 2016 Paralympian is the athlete ambassador for the Paralympian Search event set for this Saturday October 27 at the Pan Am Sports Centre in Toronto.
“I always knew I wanted to participate in running but that was hard to do on a regular prosthetic leg,” said Papaconstantinou, 19, who was born without a right foot. “Getting the blade was the ultimate for me. It allowed me to have the support I needed, made me manage my energy properly, it changed my perspective, and allowed me to learn a lot more about the sport.”
She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her experiences with the group that participates in Saturday’s Paralympian Search, an event open to anybody with a physical or visual disability aged 14 and up and which seeks to discover new athletes with high performance potential.
Papaconstantinou feels they’ve taken a giant step just by attending the event and trying.
“That is really important,” said Papaconstantinou, a second year Sports Media student at Ryerson University. “I also want to emphasize what Paralympic sport is all about and the impact it can have on their life.”
Already in her running career, Papaconstantinou has competed at two IPC World Championships, posting four Top 10 results. She also finished in the Top 10 at the age of 16 at the Rio Paralympic Games two years ago. Her specialties are the sprint events: the 100m and 200m.
‘’Being in high performance sport has opened up a lot of doors and experiences,’’ she said. ‘’I get to see the world and it’s given me the sense of being a global citizen.
‘’It’s a huge part of my life and I think it always will be.’’