If there’s a member of the Canadian athletics team who is literally taking her game to the next level at this Paralympics, it’s Marissa Papaconstantinou.
After breaking her personal – and Canadian – best twice on the same day in the women’s T64 200 metres, the Torontonian showed up at the track again on Friday night to participate in the 100-metre finals, where she earned her first podium at the Games by winning the bronze medal in a photo finish.
Not only that, the Toronto native also broke her best mark on that event and set a new national record of 13.07 seconds.
“I made sure I stayed on the gas all the way to the finish line,” Papaconstantinou said afterwards. “I was so focused on my lane that didn’t see too much around me, but I remember feeling like I was pulling away from the rest of the group in those last 10 metres.”
It was a tight race overall, with only 0.3 seconds between the medal positions, which explains the confusion at the end of the event.
As soon as the competition concluded, Fleur Jong from the Netherlands started celebrating, assuming she had placed third, while the Canadian seemed upset about not reaching the podium. That changed seconds later as the screen at the Olympic Stadium showed it was Papaconstantinou who won bronze, much to her surprise.
Marlene Van Gansewinkel (Netherlands) won gold and Irmgard Bensusan (Germany) got silver, both of them setting Paralympic records.
With this being her final race at Tokyo, these Games have served as a consolidation of potential for the 21-year-old.
“In this moment, it just completely solidifies all the work I’ve put over the last few years,” said the member of Team Canada. “Persevering through some really tough injuries, getting disqualified at my first Paralympics, and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“There’s been so much, but these Games is the most prepared I’ve ever felt coming into a major championship. I really just rode the wave all the way through and had a lot of fun doing it.”
The sprinter’s podium has already started to get recognition from local authorities, with the City of Markham proclaiming Sept. 3 as Marissa Papaconstantinou Day.