By Brendan Shykora
Two of the Ottawa Lions’ top para athletes played it cool in the finals of their events during the ongoing heat wave at the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships.
Tommy Des Brisay, a 26-year-old marathon specialist with autism, raced in the men’s T20 1500 metre para ambulatory finals, finishing fourth with a time of 4:22:97 on the event’s second day Wednesday.
“It was hot,” Des Brisay said after the race, which took place in 30-degree heat despite a 7:00 p.m. start time.
Though his 1500 m personal best this season was 4:09:51, his Wednesday evening time was a strong showing considering the temperature.
The race concludes Des Brisay’s events at the championships, but he’ll soon be off to the World Para Athletics Championships next year in Dubai. At the 2017 Worlds in London, England, he finished 12th in the 1500 m T20 and eighth in the 5000 m.
“He’s really a distance guy,” said MaryAnn Des Brisay, Tommy’s mother. “But he ran really well today.”
Identified as a Tokyo 2020 Paralympic hopeful, Des Brisay will be working on his 1500 m times, as there won’t be a 5000 m event in Tokyo.
Rachael Burrows crossed the line in 23.73 seconds in the women’s para wheelchair T34 100 m dash, a hair off her seasonal best of 23.63 and good for fifth place in the final.
“Not my best, not my worst,” Burrows said after her race, in good spirits.
The 35-year-old Burrows has had a long career as a para athlete, having competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London as well as multiple World Championships.
Burrows had thought that last year would be her final year of racing but ended up deciding she still had more to give.
“My parents always told me as long as you still enjoy it, you still do it,” she said. “As soon as you don’t enjoy it any more that’s when you stop.”
Burrows is still enjoying herself enough to attend a World Championships development meet in Spain next month as both a mentor and competitor.
Burrows says the key to taking pleasure in the twilight years of her career has been to detach herself from the stress of competition.
“(Last year) I was starting to crack under the pressure a little bit, and I didn’t know if I wanted to race at that level anymore and then I decided to just enjoy it for me and see where it goes.”
“I’m leaving for Spain next month, so I’ve still got it in me I guess,” she said with a laugh.
Burrows will compete in 200 m and 400 m before the end of the Track and Field Championships, which run until Sunday, July 8.