Many thanks to reporter Jessica Cunha at the Kanata Kourier-Standard: Metroland Media for this lovely story about Tommy Des Brisay at worlds! It’s been an incredible, exciting journey for Tommy to have the honour to represent Canada at the World Para Athletic Championships in London this summer! There are still many videos we plan to upload to his YouTube channel, to allow his friends to share in the journey…so please stay tuned to see more about Tommy’s wonderful experience while at the games and in London, England! We are still settling back in at home in Ottawa, winding down from all the excitement, and processing all the amazing memories! We are so very grateful to everyone who worked hard to make this experience possible for Tommy, and for all the heartfelt support Tommy has received over the past several weeks. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts
Here is the full text:
Kanata runner represents Canada at world para championships
‘I feel stronger all the time’: Des Brisay
Bridlewood’s Tommy Des Brisay competes in the 5,000-metre T20 final at the 2017 IPC Para Athletics World Championships in London, England. – Yonathan Kellerman/Athletics Canada
Kanata’s Tommy Des Brisay wore the maple leaf proudly at the 2017 IPC Para Athletics World Championships in London, England, last month.
It was the first time the 25-year-old elite runner with autism competed on the world Para stage and the second time he ran without knowing anyone else on the track.
“It was thrilling to see Tommy stand shoulder to shoulder at the start line with T20 athletes from countries worldwide, run a strong race alongside them and then shake hands congratulating them after the race,” said his mother, MaryAnn Given Des Brisay.
The T20 classification broadly covers athletes with intellectual disabilities. Tommy finished eighth in the T20 5,000-metre race (out of 13 athletes) with a time of 15:48:93, and in the 12th spot (out of 12) in the T20 1,500m, running a time of 4:50:77.
Kanata runner to compete in world Para championships
“(It was) his first ever experience on the world stage in a huge venue with crowds like those at the London Olympic Stadium,” said MaryAnn. “Watching athletes from all over the world with diverse abilities come together in such an exciting venue, cheering on Team Canada as many of our athletes won medals … it was really incredible to be there and experience Tommy being a part of it.”
Tommy, who lives in Bridlewood, said he felt good representing Team Canada in London and worked hard to focus on his races.
“I feel stronger all the time,” he said, following his return home.
A number of Tommy’s family and friends made the trip to cheer him on, including his brother Paul and sister-in-law Laura from Winnipeg, family from London, France, Vancouver — and some YouTube fans who followTommy’s online channel.
“There were lots and lots of friends and family watching,” said MaryAnn. “We have all been very moved by the incredible support Tommy has received from his thousands of YouTube fans and Facebook followers, cheering him on and wishing him success.”
While in London for the championships, Tommy also had the opportunity to play tourist.
PAVING THE PATH
Tommy, a Paralympic hopeful for Tokyo 2020, began running competitively at age 14 with his father Peter and was an alternate at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
He was one of the first T20 athletes to compete at worlds representing Canada, said his mom.
“Tommy is paving the path for future T20 athletes and opening doors for opportunity for other neurodiverse Canadians,” said MaryAnn. “(He) is a great ambassador, showing that autistic and other intellectually different people can succeed and even represent Canada on a world stage, as they have abilities to be celebrated.”
She’s driven to share Tommy’s story to help encourage other parents and caregivers of people with autism, particularly those who are in the early stages after being diagnosed, she said, adding it can be an uncertain time for many.
“They can have a good life,” she said. “Tommy is having a good and happy life. I really feel motivated to share his story, partly for that reason.”
For the immediate future, Tommy plans to take a break from track and focus on transitioning back to road racing, said his mom.
“Tommy truly enjoys running in community road races, connecting with other Ottawa residents and racing alongside many of his friends from the Ottawa Lions Club,” MaryAnn said, adding that long-distance running is where her son shines. “He’s won Road Racer of the Year at the Ottawa Sports Awards for the past three years due to his strong performances in the marathon, half-marathon and 10-kilometre events.”
Looking further ahead, he plans to continue preparing for the summer Paralympic Games in 2020.
“Tommy hopes to return to train with Athletics Canada at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center (in California) for warm weather training, and in Flagstaff (Arizona) for altitude training in 2018, as he continues to work toward competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games,” said MaryAnn. “Hopefully, his London experience was the foundation for future experiences going forward.”
Correction: this story has been updated to clarify this was Tommy’s first time competing in the world Para championships and his second time racing without knowing anyone on the track. He previously competed at an international race in Italy. The Kourier-Standard apologizes for the error.