Toronto’s Marissa Papaconstantinou wins bronze at Para Athletics World Championships

Marissa Papaconstantinou

On Thursday afternoon at the Para Athletics World Championships in Paris, Toronto’s Marissa Papaconstantinou sprinted to a 100m personal best of 12.95 seconds to win a bronze medal in the women’s T64 100m final. Her bronze is one of nine medals Team Canada has won at these Games so far.

Papaconstantinou blazed out of the starting blocks, taking an early lead in the first 30 meters. However, the Netherlands’ Fleur Jong used her long stride to her advantage, surging past Papaconstantinou to win gold in 12.47 seconds. Spain’s Sara Andres Barrio just passed the Canadian before the line, taking silver at 12.83 seconds. This was Papaconstantinou’s first time running under 13 seconds in the T64 100m.

This also marked her first medal in the T64 100m at a Para Athletics World Championship. She won a bronze medal in the same event at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. The 23-year-old trains in Toronto under University of Toronto track and field coach Bob Westman.

The T64 classification is for athletes with the absence of one leg below the knee. All T64 athletes have difficulty accelerating evenly out of the blocks and maintaining an even stride, particularly in the drive phase of the race.

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Three more medals for Canada

Papaconstantinou’s bronze was one of three medals for Team Canada at the Para Athletics World Championships on Thursday. Austin Smeenk of Oakville, Ont. won his second medal of the Games, winning a silver in the men’s T34 100m, adding to the bronze he already won in the T34 400m on Tuesday.

Zachary Gingras of Markham, Ont., won silver in the men’s T38 400m in a new personal best time of 50.23 seconds. Gingras, 21, upgraded his bronze placing from two years ago at the Tokyo Paralympics in the same event.

Twenty-five Para athletes are in Paris to represent Canada from July 8 to 17 at the 2023 Para Athletics World Championships. CBC Sports is streaming the event on CBCSports.ca, CBC Gem and the CBC Sports app for mobile devices. The schedule is available here.

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