UPDATE: Dieleman did punch his ticket for Rio at these April trials and will represent Canada at the Paralympic Games.
TORONTO – Until this week, Jonathan Dieleman could not tell his parents that his participation in the 2016 Paralympics was for certain, but that did not stop his parents from booking their flight.
On Wednesday morning, Dieleman broke the Canadian record in the S3 classification 50-metre breaststroke during his heat with a time of 50.39 seconds.
Though the official nomination will not be released until Sunday after the final trial, the record performance all but guarantees his spot in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
“About three months ago my parents kept asking me if I am going to go to Rio, and I told them I can’t tell you that until after the trials,” Dieleman said. “But I guess my parents had enough confidence in me that they went and bought their tickets for Rio already.”
Dieleman, a T4 paraplegic, dedicated his performance to his recently deceased grandfather. He recieved the news on his way to Florida for staging camp, but his family insisted he not allow it to interrupt his training.
“It was hard not being able to go home, but my family knew what was going on, and for me it was on my mind,” said the Edmonton native. “I just wanted to get a great result to honour the memory of my grandfather.
“In a way it is hard to deal with, but it is more motivation to get the result.”
On Thursday night, Dieleman competed in the 150-metre individual medley final. His performance fell short of Paralympic qualification in the event, but he was pleased with his performance.
“I had a plan of going a little bit faster than I was this morning,” Dieleman said. “So this afternoon I just pour it on a bit more at the end and I ended up with a faster time so I am happy with it.”
Competing in five events across the six-day trials held at Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, Dieleman says the strong performance in his primary event has eased the tension throughout the rest of the week.
“There has been a lot of anxiousness coming into the meet and now that the main one is done I am happy and it helped coming into this race. I’m just feeling good about it now,” said the 31-year-old.
“Being able to get that result yesterday, and being able to dedicate it to my grandfather is awesome.”
In the 2015 Parapan Am Games, Dieleman took home a silver medal in the 50-metre breaststroke, falling three-tenths of a second short of capturing gold.
“I could have won. For me it was motivation to say I can do this,” Dieleman said. “I can win. I can be a lot better.”