Stefan Daniel is no stranger to success.
The former St. Timothy School student has a number of accolades to his name as both a cross-country runner and triathlete. From numerous high school titles to three paratriathlon world championships, a silver medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio and a top 10 finish in the USport Cross Country Championships, Daniel has demonstrated an ability to compete at nearly every level.
As a testament to his success, Daniel was recently named Triathlon Canada’s Triathlete of the Year.
“It means a lot,” said Daniel of the distinction, which he said could have gone to a lot of great triathletes across Canada. “It took a lot of work and supportive family and friends.”
Indeed, Daniel has a busy schedule. His training consists of running, biking and swimming five times a week with additional weights thrown into the mix. On top of that he piles on course work from the University of Calgary as he studies business.
“I look at it like a job,” he said of what keeps him focused. “I don’t give myself the option to miss out on training or classes.”
That work ethic is paying off and despite the numerous titles and medals, Daniel isn’t done striving toward his dreams.
With two years left in USport competition, the 21-year-old is shooting for a medal position at that level. He also has a schedule to be back on the international stage for the next Paralympic Games, scheduled for next year.
Now, as he eyes competing at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, Stefan said his next goal will be to earn a spot on the Olympic stage in 2024 when the games go to Paris or 2028 in Los Angeles.
Daniel, who was born with bilateral radial club hands, if successful, would be one of only a handful of Paralympic athletes to also compete at the Olympic level.
Daniel knows he can compete in the “able bodied” competitions, he finished 17th in the U23 category of the world duathlon championships held in Fyn, Denmark in July.
“I’m on track for the bike and the run,” said Daniel, adding the swimming component is the most challenging.
“One of my arms is shorter than the other so I don’t get as much power, so I need to kick more,” Stefan said explaining the extra leg exertion means he is more tired for the start of the biking section of the race than he’d like.
Knowing the work he has to do to achieve Olympic status doesn’t deter Daniel. In fact, he said he owes it to himself to try and would be disappointed if he didn’t make the effort.
“I want to prove that no matter what your circumstances you are given yo can achieve what you want,” he said, adding he hopes he can inspire others to do the same.