Annapolis Valley Register
Pushing for personal bests
Ben Brown is off to the races again after nearly two years of being sidelined from international competitions due to the global pandemic.
The Cambridge resident is a nationally-funded wheelchair racer supported by Athletics Canada. His determination to represent his country on the world stage in high-level international competitions has far from wavered in the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“I didn’t see a reason to stop chasing my goals,” the 33-year-old T53 athlete said in a recent interview.
Brown has channelled his competitive energy into training during down periods linked to event cancellations and travel restrictions implemented to quell the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
“I’m trying to put myself in a good spot at the end of this season for world championships next year,” he said.
Ueli Albert, his athletics coach, is helping Brown prepare to top his personal bests this season. They’re gearing up to hit some important times during upcoming meets in Quebec.
“If he can crack the 1.40 min in the 800m he could potentially qualify for Tokyo,” said Albert, referring to the Paralympic Games slated for August," said Albert.
“We wait and see how it goes until we plan the second half of the season.”
The duo has remained focused on ensuring that Brown would be in peak physical condition for the racing opportunities that would open up this season.
“During the lockdown Ben mostly trained in my garage and we did a lot of roller workouts. I also kept all the athletes motivated with regular Zoom workouts to give them a sense of group training,” said Albert, who coaches through Valley Athletics and Global Wheelchair Racing.
“It was a chance to try out some new things and Ben embraced the time to dial in his new 3D printed hard gloves.”
His results from the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Switzerland in May will act as a building block as Brown zeroes in on his tactical goals for the remainder of the season. “Traveling has been challenging but Ben managed to make it to Switzerland for the Grand Prix, which was a great opportunity to see where he stands after not competing internationally for almost two years,” said Albert.
“Although we hoped he could do better, I think it was a great learning curve and he finally knows that he can race with the ‘big guns’ since he was racing almost all of his races in the fastest heat.”
Brown said travelling is difficult with the stringent health guidelines in place to protect athletes and the public, but he’s grateful for the opportunity to “shake off some race rust.”
“It also gave me an idea of what is necessary to not just compete at that level, but also eventually win.”
COVID-19 tests and periods of isolation are par for the course as he continues to swing for the fences.
“I do it with open arms and an open mind,” he said, referring to the health protocols he follows to compete outside of the province.
“…If I don’t travel to at least Quebec City, then I’m not giving myself the best opportunities to make (national) teams and represent Canada.”
He said there’s nothing like training and competing alongside other athletes, and he’s thrilled to be back at it.
“It was honestly muchneeded for me mentally.”
He said the pandemic forced a lot of athletes to step back, but he’s wholly committed to doing whatever it takes to keep moving forward well into the future.
“I see myself improving and I don’t see myself slowing down.”
Brown knows where he stacks up against the top racers in the world after competing in Switzerland, and he’ll use that intel to his advantage as he looks to improve his rankings.
“I can hang with those guys, and compete with those guys,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of execution right now.”