'A dream is only crazy until you do it'
'A dream is only crazy until you do it'
The athletic accomplishments of twenty-five-year-old Stefan Daniel have been extraordinary, and he continues to evolve and improve. His 2022 season is another big stride forward, highlighted by two more gold medals on the World Paratriathlon Tour, and his 5th World Championship title.
He also made his long-distance triathlon debut at Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz against some of the best triathletes in the World. To help put his leap to the 70.3 race distance in perspective, his typical races on the World Paratriathlon Tour and the Paralympics involve a 750 metre swim, 20k bike, and a 5k run, and typically takes him just under an hour to finish.
The 70.3 ironman is four times the distance; 1.9 km swim, 90 km bike, 21.1 km run. Stefan finished Santa Cruz with an excellent 14th place in the men’s pro division, finishing the race in 3:59:53. His self-described ‘cautious’ approach to the race was filled with learning and excitement, knowing he can push things harder when he gets to do another 70.3 race.
Looking forward to Paris 2024:
The 2024 Paris Paralympics will be Stefan’s third trip to the Games — and his goal is to climb on the podium again, hopefully for a gold medal this time around. He won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and a bronze in Tokyo 2020.
Teenage Swimmer and Cross-Country Runner :
Stefan was born with bilateral radial club hands, his right arm most affected, resulting in a shortened forearm with compromised grip strength. Undeterred by his physical challenges, his parents enrolled him in various sports, such as soccer, swimming, and running, where he excelled.
As a teenager, he had become one of Canada’s top young para-swimmers — winning Nationals and international medals. Stefan’s impressive athletic ability emerged again when he joined the University of Calgary Athletic Club as a young teen. He quickly began winning provincial track and cross country running events — eventually winning the Canadian High School Cross Country Championship in 2014.
Stefan’s Triathlon Start:
Stefan made his triathlon debut in 2013 and swiftly rose through the ranks — winning bronze at the 2013 World Paratriathlon Championship in London, England as a rookie and then silver at the 2014 World Championships in Edmonton.
Stefan made his triathlon debut in 2013 and swiftly rose through the ranks — winning bronze at the 2013 World Paratriathlon Championship in London, England as a rookie and then silver at the 2014 World Championships in Edmonton. While Stefan quickly became a successful triathlete — dominating in the swim and run, he struggled early on with cycling due to his shortened forearm with compromised grip strength. He needed to be more confident in controlling the bike at high speeds and could not shift gears and brake properly, but after attending a para-cycling camp and a few essential modifications to his bike, his riding improved quickly.
Teenager heading to Rio Olympics as the favourite
Stefan was golden in 2015, winning both the ITU Para-Triathlon World Triathlon Series in Edmonton and at the ITU World Grand Finals in Chicago. Heading into his first Paralympics at the age of 19, he was the gold medal favourite with a target on his back.
The morning of the race was incredibly hot and humid and Stefan had an uncharacteristic tough start, coming off the bike in 5th place, and in jeopardy of missing the podium. Stefan dug deep and ran the fastest running split of the day to climb his way back up to second place and a Silver medal for Canada.
Golden in 2015
With something to prove to the world, Stefan worked hard on his cycling and swimming skills after the Rio Games and dominated the world of Paratriathlon, winning back-to-back World Championships in 2017 and 2018.He also continued to run for the University of Calgary’s U Sports cross country team while studying in the Faculty of Business, Stefan and his Dino's team won their first ever National Championships in 2018.
Stefan was also featured in a 2018 Nike commercial highlighting his approach to competition and the saying 'A dream is only crazy until you do it' and his ambition to race against able-bodied athletes and win.
Five-Time World champion & Two-Time Paralympic medalist triathlete
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Hometown: CALGARY, ALBERTA
Training base: calgary, alberta