Josh Cassidy of the Ottawa Lions focused most of his efforts on the 1,500 and 5,000 m races before competing in the marathon to wrap up his London 2012 Paralympic Games. Photo: Ian Ewing
By Dan Plouffe
Still on the recovery path from an illness that had him on antibiotics in the lead-up to the London 2012 Paralympics, Ottawa Lions wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy completed his sixth race of the Games on Sunday.
Behind Great Britain’s David Weir, who won his fourth gold medal of the Games, the 27-year-old wound up placing 12th in a time of 1:33:06.
On perhaps the hottest day of the Games, Cassidy said he was “pretty bagged” after completing the tough 42.2 km course that passed many of London’s top sights, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge.
“For a big guy like me, it was a lot of turns, a lot of slow spots,” highlighted the Ottawa-born athlete who now lives in Toronto. “It’s not a great course for me, but I gave everything I had.”
Cassidy, who set a wheelchair marathon world record earlier this season in Boston, had focused his training on the 5,000 and 1,500 m instead of the longer endurance test.
“It kind of showed. The guys I was with I haven’t in a pack with for quite awhile,” he added. “My general fitness was there, but I think I’m still recovering.”
Cassidy leaves London 2012 with a top finish of fifth place, which came in the 800. He had a wild start to that race when a pair of athletes crashed in front of him and then bumped him onto the track infield.
“I couldn’t believe I was still up,” Cassidy recalled. “When there’s adversity or some obstacle, it just gives me even more adrenaline. I knew I would get back in there. I expended a lot trying to get back in and didn’t have much for the end, but that’s the way racing goes.”
Although he didn’t come away with the medals he originally targeted prior to his illness, Cassidy expressed satisfaction with his performances in London given the circumstances.
“You have to be,” he explained. “Otherwise this could drive me insane for the next four years, but I’d prefer it to not. I’ve already had enough frustration, so it seems pretty easy to let go of stuff now.
“Despite everything that’s happened and all the tough luck, I’m proud of how I did. I’m happy with it because I couldn’t ask anything more of myself.”
Burrows places 6th in 200 final
Rachael Burrows of the Lions wrapped up her Paralympic debut with one last appearance in front of 80,000 fans at Olympic Stadium for the T34 women’s 200 m, placing sixth in a time of 38.51 seconds.
“I just wanted to perform well for me in that final,” said the 29-year-old wheelchair racer. “It still wasn’t my PB, but that was way better, and to do that here, I was very happy.”
Burrows earlier participated in the 100 m final as well, which meant she achieved her pre-Games objectives.
“It’s been a wonderful experience. I’m very blessed to do it and I’m very thankful to Canada for allowing me to represent them, and hopefully I did a good job,” added Burrows, who hopes to race again come four years’ time in Rio de Janeiro. “If they’ll have me, I’ll come back.”
Thom misses 4x400 final
Curtis Thom wrapped up his Games with the T53-54 4x400 m wheelchair relay where the Canadian team missed the four-team final by a slim .22-second margin behind Australia’s 3:17.28 performance in the first heat.
“It’s disappointing,” the 27-year-old Lions athlete said. “There’s a lot of questions that go through your head when it’s such a close time. I kind of wondered should I have tried to push a little harder, could I have gone a little bit faster, could I have had a better start?”
It was a similar scenario earlier in the Games when Thom missed the 400 m final by one position, although the former sledge hockey national team player was still positive about his overall experience at the Games, especially after reaching the 100 m final unexpectedly.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Thom, who would like to climb even higher come Rio 2016. “I’m definitely aiming for it.”
Lions Brandon King and guide runner Andrew Heffernan, who earlier participated in the 4x400 m relay, competed in the T12 men’s 200 m for athletes with a visual impairment, finishing 19th overall in 24.29 seconds.