Marissa Papaconstantinou has already experienced plenty of the ups and downs that the sports world can provide.
The 21-year-old Canadian will face her second Paralympics in Tokyo 2020, starting her participation with the women’s T64 200 metre race on Tuesday morning at the Olympic Stadium, hoping to improve what she did at Rio 2016 when she was only 16.
It was during those Games that she earned a time good enough to put her name in the finals, but got disqualified for stepping on the line of her lane.
In the search for better results, the native from Toronto joined Athletics Canada’s pre-Games camp in the Gifu prefecture in the Chubu region, 236 miles away from Tokyo.
“Taking part in the pre-games camp gives us enough time in advance to prepare,” said Papaconstantinou, days prior to the opening ceremony. “It allows us the opportunity to get used to the heat and the time change.”
However, these are not the only factors that the member of Team Canada will have to face in the land of the rising sun.
Following her international debut in 2015 at the IPC World Championships in Doha, where she made a huge first impression, Papaconstantinou suffered a considerable number of injuries that kept her from exploiting all of her potential.
In 2017 she suffered from a hamstring injury after setting a new personal best in the 200 metres at the World Para Athletics Championship, and the next year she tore one of her knee tendons.
Despite that, in 2019, she established the Canadian record for the T64 100 metres (her other competition at Tokyo), and ranked third in the world before suffering a new hamstring injury.
The Canadian established a new national record this year for the T64 200 metres in June, and lowered her personal best in the 100 metres at the beginning of August.
Being constant has, for sure, paid off for Papaconstantinou throughout the years, not only on the track, but out of it as well. However, she has a clear goal for her future: gold.
“It’s going to happen, one day or another,” said the 21-year-old to Athletics Canada. “It doesn’t make me disappointed when I wake up that I haven’t achieved that yet.
“It just means that I have so much more work to do to get there.”