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2019 London Distance Series Meets

AtlanticU23 #034 - Jacob LeBlanc (New Brunswick)

Posted 5 days ago

Photo Courtesy: Sharon Peabody

AtlanticU23 #034 – Jacob LeBlanc (New Brunswick)

Hometown: Dieppe, New Brunswick
Birth Year: 2002 (U18 age class)
Para Class: T54
Club: Athlétisme Sud-Est / South-East Athletics
Coach: Ron LeBlanc
Personal Bests (as of June 10, 2019): 100m: 16.97, 200m: 29.76, 400m: 56.31, 800m: 1:56.48, 1500m: 3:40.84

5 quick questions with Jacob:
Favourite school subject? Welding
Song you always have stuck in your head? Purple Vision by Deway
What is the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars? Try to payback my family that has spent so much money for me to fulfill my dream
Would you rather set a world record or win Paralympic gold? One can’t be viewed better than the other. They both show that you have reached your best self as an athlete.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Moncton, New Brunswick

How did you first get involved in track and field?
I’m not sure what the occasion was for me to be introduced to the sport, but some time back around 2010 I met Gabriel LeBlanc, who would go on to be a great coach and help me achieve many things.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations, both in the sport of track and field and in general?
I’ve been inspired most by Greg Westlake, who was captain of the Canadian National Para Ice Hockey team (and winner of multiple Paralympic and World Championship medals).

What do you find to be most inspiring about Greg?
He has such a positive mind set, he always puts his all in his sport, and he is a fantastic leader. I think if I’m even half the athlete he is, I can achieve great things.

In late 2015 you were invited to attend a national training camp hosted by Athletics Canada in Guelph, a rare and exciting invitation at such a young age. What was the camp like? What role did the camp play towards your future success?
It was definitely an outstanding experience for any age. I learnt a lot about technique, nutrition, and so many other critical aspects about being a successful athlete.

At the 2017 Canada Games, despite racing against competitors up to twice your age, you captured bronze in the wheelchair 1500m and placed 4thand 5thin the 400m and 200m, respectively. Take us through your Canada Games experience. What were your expectations heading into the Games?
I knew the different ages I was facing so I stuck to myself – whatever happens, happens mind set. I put my all in those races and I was able to go home with a bronze medal. To be so young at Canada Games, adding the fact that you’re going against men, can be intimidating, but if you just focus on putting your all in your performance you can be nothing but pleased by how you did.

The most recent age categories published by Canada Games Council allow para athletes up to 35 years of age to compete at the Summer edition of the Games. At just 17 years of age this year, you still have multiple editions to participate in. Looking towards the 2021 Games, what are some of your goals?
Same goal as last time, I can’t affect anyone else’s performance so I would have to focus on my best self as an athlete during those competition days.

You recently returned from Tempe, Arizona where you competed at the Desert Challenge Games, a meet that forms part of the World Para Athletics Grand Prix. Despite being one of the youngest competitors, you placed exceptionally well, including an 8thplace finish in the open 400m. Take us through your races at the Games.
It was another excellent experience as a young racer, getting a taste of what competition I have to face leading on in my career was great.

Having competed at the Desert Challenge Games for the first time in 2018, what were your goals and expectations for this year’s competition?
Once again just push my hardest, the only way I can succeed on race day is if I do my 110%, so I took what I learnt last year in training and used it as best as I could.

A double medalist at last year’s Canadian Track and Field Championships, what are your goals for this year’s Championships?
Getting another chance of racing against outstanding racers helps me gain more experience, which at a young age I’ll take as much as I’m giving the chance to have.

Due to the low number of competitors in para-athletics, local and regional meets are most often contested by just a few athletes – a similar trend also exists at the national championships. How have the small number of competitors affected your development and competition experiences?
It makes it more difficult to evaluate how I’m progressing, but with the great coaching I get they help me take points in which I must work on and I do my best to get it done.

The low number of competitors has also resulted in combined age classes – national meets, and even some internal ones, often combine ages to form one open category. While presenting an opportunity to compete alongside Paralympians and world record holders, such can also lead to fields of varying abilities and levels of athletic development. How have open categories affected your development and competition experiences?
Going against grown men that are more experienced, stronger, and all-in-all better than I am, makes me have to push myself harder to prove my spot in races against them.

Due to the high speeds and sharp turns on the indoor tracks (particularly at Moncton’s CEPS facility), the indoor component of the sport is far less popular for wheelchair athletes globally. From your experiences, tell us about competing indoors vs. outdoors?
Outdoors is obviously the most preferable choice, but training outside in Canada's winter conditions is too promising. Indoor still has its advantages, such as no headwind and no precipitation, but I’ve never really looked at the advantages and disadvantages about the two, I just see it as a chance to train.

While athletics is increasingly becoming more inclusive and resourceful towards all event groups and athletic abilities, para athletes still face many barriers in the sport. How do you believe these barriers can best be overcome?
I think that any para sport should be more available. Not just with organizations, I think it’s time we work to bring para-sport to school sports teams, so that it has more exposure to young kids, disabled or not. This will also allow younger para athletes such as myself to be able to get more chance to be active and practice their sport.

Off the track and onto the ice, you have a number of accomplishments to your name, including invitations to Hockey Canada’s NextGen Prospects Camp and a selection to the National Para Hockey Development Team. Tell us about your involvement in sledge hockey. What are some of the shared skills between sledge hockey and track and field?
Sledge hockey and wheelchair racing use a lot of the same muscles and similar motion patterns, so they’re fairly alike.

In your 2017 Canada Games bio, you expressed hope in competing in both athletics at the Summer Paralympics, and sledge hockey at the Winter Paralympics. Alongside school, how do you balance competing in both of these sports at such a high level?
Having sledge hockey going on during winter and wheelchair racing during summer, I get to focus on both sports separately in a way. Once one sport’s season ends, that keeps me in shape for the next one, which is a great advantage.

Aside from racing and sledge hockey, what are some of your other hobbies?
I spend a fair amount of time on my BMX bike, often at the skate park. It’s a great way to work on my cardio and endurance as you aren't always pushing along a horizontal surface.

Hosted by New Brunswick-born track runner, administrator, and coach Brandon Scott LeBlanc, AtlanticU23 is an interview series with upcoming Atlantic Canada track and field athletes under the age of 23.

Facebook: @AtlanticU23

Twitter: @AtlanticU23

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