TORONTO – Canadian Paralympic hopeful Mitchell Chase, has always been confident in his abilities.
Coming off of a breakout 2015 season, in which he won gold in the T38 1,500m at the Parapan Am Games, the 19-year-old Pickering native has his eyes set on the Paralympics in Brazil.
“Going into Rio I would like to get on the podium”, said Chase. “I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work to do it but I think that if I can stay healthy, push myself, and stay dedicated, then I see myself getting there.”
In addition to his Parapan Am win, Chase also set an Americas record in the event, running 4:34.68, in a moment he and his coach Craig Blackman, won’t soon forget.
“I was pretty excited,” joked Blackman after practice with Chase last month at Monarch Park Stadium in Toronto. “It was like being a father all over again.”
With 250m to go in the bell lap, Chase set himself on the shoulder of the American, Austin Handley, to put himself within striking distance of the front running Colombian, Juan Carlos Medina Valencia.
On the final bend, Chase, made his move as he powered past both athletes to take the lead, and continued to expand it until he crossed the finish line.
“It was unreal!” he said. “I think my kick at the end is my strongest feature. It made me happy to see all my hard work and training that I put in pay off.”
Although they have only been working together for about a year, Chase and Blackman share a special bond. With a training program that focuses on adding speed and power development to the youngster’s long distance running background, they have been able to achieve a top five world ranking in a very short time.
“I missed off of making it to OFSAA for cross country in my grade 12 year because of a minor injury,” said Chase. “I was told about the para-race that they hold every year at OFSAA, so it was the perfect chance for me to get into that side of the sport.”
He met coach Blackman, of I Be Fast Track Club, at a para-track and field development camp in Guelph Ont., and they started training together the following year.
Chase, who grew up competing with athletes of regular ability up until grade 11, was born with Cerebral Palsy which affects his right leg. He credits his parents for helping to instil confidence in his abilities at an early age.
“I started off playing sports like soccer, hockey and cross country,” said the Paralympic hopeful. “My parents have always been there supporting me in all my sporting adventures and pushing me to be the best that I can be.”
As far as winning a Paralympic medal this year goes, with a personal best time only 20 seconds off of the 2015 world leading Australian, Deon Kenzie, both athlete and coach are up for the challenge.
“He’ll be in the finals for sure,” said Blackman of Chase. “The medal is going to be tuff. We have work to do. First things first, lets get him on the team. With some of the work we’ve been doing, he could very well break through and get a medal.”
A graduate of Dunbarton high school in Pickering, Chase looks forward to pursing a post secondary education.
“I believe that studying kinesiology would be beneficial for my training”, said Chase. “I find that my strong suit in school is my maths and sciences so I have also taken engineering into consideration.”
Less than half a second away from catching, 2015 fourth ranked Angel Moises Enriquez Torres of Mexico, the young competitor insists he doesn’t believe in having rivalries.
“I just compete with myself,” he said, “trying to improve my times as best as possible.”