Victoria’s Liam Stanley traded in his soccer cleats for a pair of track spikes as the dual-sport athlete won silver in the 1,500m at the Paralympic Games. The 19-year-old competes in the T37 category, a designation for athletes who have coordination impairment.
Stanley is one of the country’s top soccer players and is part of the national para-soccer team. He was part of Team Canada at the 2015 Parapan Am Games and helped the team to a fourth-place finish. A stroke at birth left him with weakness on the right side of his body.
“The race went well, a little faster than I expected,” Stanley said after the race. “I just tried to hold on to the Irish athlete. I stayed with the game plan and just executed.”
The Canadian ran 4:16.72 to win silver behind Ireland’s Michael McKillop. This was Stanley’s first-ever international event as a runner though he has experience on the global level in soccer. Stanley was the 2013 and 2014 national para-soccer player of the year.
Stanley ran a smart race as he was pack running until 500m to go when he ran on the shoulder of the eventual-winner. The Irish athlete ran 63 seconds for the final lap to increase the gap and win by four seconds.
The 19-year-old is coached by Canadian marathon legend Bruce Deacon and runs with the Prairie Inn Harriers on Vancouver Island. Stanley focused on athletics at the Paralympic Games as Team Canada did not qualify for Rio.
— Athletics Canada (@AthleticsCanada) September 11, 2016
The full description for the T37 category is: “Athletes have moderate hypertonia, ataxia or athetosis in one half of the body. The other side of the body may be minimally affected but always demonstrates good functional ability in running. Arm action is asymmetrical. Some trunk asymmetry is usually evident.”