RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Teenager Stefan Daniel did pretty well for himself considering he was a ‘boy’ against men.
Daniel secured silver in the first ever PT4 Paralympic triathlon, thanks to his speed on the road and coach Carolyn Murray sees even better results ahead.
“We are dealing with a man versus boy scenario and we know by Tokyo (2020) he will be a man,” said Murray, afterwards. “But (gold medalist Martin) Schulz had a phenomenal race, he really put it down on the bike.”
Daniel displayed his determination combined with late race endurance as he came from fourth position after the bike phase, to claim a spot on the podium. He was sixth after the opening swim.
“I wasn’t in a podium position coming off the bike, so I had to earn everything I could,” said Daniel in the media zone on Copacabana beach. “Martin was just too far up the road, he beat me fair and square.”
Daniel sent his personal standard through the roof but even after a dramatic comeback in the track phase– he was not thrilled by the result.
“I gave everything I could,” said Daniel, a native of Calgary. “I was lucky to get the silver, I had to beat the Spanish guy (Jairo Ruiz Lopez, who finished fourth) to hold on but I was proud of my race.”
Although Daniel is only 19, he was not affected by pre-race nerves in his first Paralympic outing, a true sign of a champion.
“I was just trying to think of it as any other race,” said Daniel. “I told myself I have been through this a million times, I just wanted to go out there and give my best.”
Daniel was the youngest competitor in the race, something he sees as an advantage moving forward.
“I am still a teenager and I have lots of room to grow,” said Daniel. “I am just going to keep working with my coach to get better every year.”
He credited the support of his brother, Christian, as a factor in his Paralympic success.
“He has been so supportive of me and he taught me how to really live with my disability, how to be happy with it, so I owe him a lot.”
Although his target was gold, Daniel said he was satisfied with being a medal holder after a gruelling preparation for the games.
“I had to work a hard three years for it and I will cherish it forever,” said Daniel. “It is going to be a special feeling standing up on that podium.”