By Amy Woolvett
Jackie Marciano is a name people will be hearing more about as the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro draw nearer. With his drive, passion and athletic ability, he just might become the next gold medal recipient for the 400-metre event.
When Marciano was nine years old, he lost his leg in a tragic accident.
“My fearlessness led to poor judgment and I fell while trying to jump train cars,” he said. He was airlifted to the UMass General Hospital and went straight into emergency surgery.
“In total I spent roughly eight months in the hospital and it is nothing short of a miracle that I am alive today.”
He was an active kid with dreams of an all-star roll with the Boston Red Sox.
But, to Marciano, the loss of his leg did not mean the loss of his active life.
“My mother helped me to transition in my life as an amputee,” he said. “I was soon out hiking, biking and being active again. Being outdoors after the accident with my prosthetic helped me to realize that I could still lead a very active lifestyle.”
He moved to Shelburne in grade six, where his mother Joy Williams was raised.
There, he continued his active lifestyle, playing sports through the high school.
A chance encounter, Marciano remembered with humour, changed the course of his active lifestyle into aspirations of becoming an athlete with his eye on the gold.
While on a run, a man in a car kept smiling and following Marciano.
“It was really weird,” he recalled. “He got out of his car and started chasing me. I had no idea what to think.”
Little did he know, the person chasing him was Ueli Albert, a Canadian Paralympic coach, who was scouting for new athletes.
“He started asking me a million questions about my athletic background and my life.”
Albert agreed to train Marciano and when he was selected to represent Canada at the Para Pan-American games in Mexico, he brought home the bronze. He then focused his attention on the 2012 Paralympic selections.
Despite qualifying for the games, ranking first in Canada and 10th in the world, he was only selected as an alternate and was forced to stay home during the games.
“I was too new an athlete,” he said. “Needless to say I was pretty upset that I didn’t make the team.”
Now, there is nothing stopping Marciano.
He has been training and competing since 2011 and is ranked first in Canada and second in the world for the single-leg 400 metre in the Paralympics.
“I am incredibly driven at this point in my career, and more than ever want to dedicate myself to being the best Paralympic sprinter over 400m in the world,” he said.
Throughout his training, competing and strive to become the best, Marciano hopes to inspire those with similar disabilities.
“I accepted my disability pretty quickly,” he said. He has worked with various programing including the War Amps, IWK amputee program, and Smile program at Acadia to help kids accelerate through their process of getting back their lives.
“I want to help others reach their own goals,” he said.
The community and businesses can help Marciano reach his goal as well as he aims to become the fasted paralympian in the world.
Pursu.it, a platform devoted to micro funding Canadian athletes, has been set up to offer the world of fans and supporters to help them on their journey.
The online platform is a collection of athlete projects looking for support and sponsorship.
“Your support will help me attend necessary training camps, competitions and help me focus more time on my daily training to be the very best,” said Marciano.
In order to be the best, Marciano will need to train 20 hours a week, with every hour of the day focused on nutrition, sleep and training, bringing his body to its best condition for the 2016 games.
“My life has been an incredible journey, I want to break the world record in my 400m event and make Canada proud in Rio 2016,” said Marciano.
People can go to https://pursu.it/campaign/jackie-marciano/ to support Marciano in his goal for gold.