By Tina Comeau
Ryan Shay has been so busy this season competing at wheelchair racing events, not to mention training for them, that he likens it to being his job.
The most recent payday for Shay came when he learned he had been selected to compete at the 2014 IWAS World Junior Games, being held at the Stoke, Mandeville Stadium in the United Kingdom.
The event, put on by the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation, runs Aug. 3-8. Shay left for the UK on July 31.
At the games he will compete in the 100m, which he reached standards for, and also the 200m and 400m wheelchair racing events in his age category.
Shay was pretty excited when he received the official notification that he had qualified for the games, not to mention when his Team Canada competition apparel arrived. It’s one thing to compete. It is another to do so while representing your country.
Shay reached his 100m standards to qualify for this world event at a track competition at St. Mary’s University.
“I was trying to get standards for both nationals and worlds and I pushed 20.29 which was enough to get me both,” he says. He later pushed standards again at nationals in Moncton.
Shay has trained hard throughout the past year for the various events he’s competed at. Aside from training at home, he’s done training camps in Atlanta and Daytona. In May he competed at one of the largest wheelchair competitions in the world that was held in Switzerland.
His ultimate goal is to qualify for the Paralympics in Rio in 2016. It’s a lofty goal, considering he only got into wheelchair racing and athletics throwing last year.
Shay has been in a wheelchair since a January 2013 car crash. But he made huge strides in the months following that accident – both in rehab and turning to different types of quad sports – and the former AAA hockey player continues to look forward, not back.
The best adjective to describe Shay is determined.
This determination can be seen at competitions and in training. It can also be seen in posts on his Facebook page: Ryan Shay Paratrack, including one post that reads, “Some people say good things come to those who wait. Truth is, good things come to those who work.”
After this competition in the UK, Shay will get a bit of a break. Aside from some races and track events closer to home, he doesn’t have any major meets coming up. Still, he says keeping busy this past year has been good for him. Actually the word he uses is “amazing.”
The training and competitions are expensive so Shay has been looking for sponsors and is appreciative of any public financial support he receives. He keeps people up-to-date on his progress, training, competitions and funding opportunities on his Facebook page.
Still, while he’s kept busy, it also hasn’t been easy. He still has many medical issues he is constantly having to deal with. Being a quadriplegic, it’s par for the course, he says. But as another quote posted on his Facebook page states, “Your body can stand almost anything. It's your mind that you have to convince."
Shay hasn’t had any trouble convincing himself of this.
UPDATES FROM RYAN SHAY WHILE AT THE GAMES:
Aug. 4: So for the U23 400m races they put all the classes together and went by a point system, how close you are to the world record for your class determines your points (system is a bit flawed). Even though I crossed the line last in my heat, I came second last in the point system in my heat. However, I got a new personal best, beating my previous time by 13s with a new time of 1:22.02s!! Pretty excited even though I didn't make finals. The 200m race is tomorrow, ready to crush that PB as well!
Aug. 6: Completed the 200m final today with a time of 40.3s. A little bit slower then what I was aiming for but it still placed me 5th overall in the T34 and T52 classes. Also I finished 4 seconds before the two other, and the only, T52's that are here and in my age group!
Aug. 7: pushed the 100m semi's today in the morning and finished 3rd out of 5 over the line with a time of 22.43s which is quite slower then my personal best, however it qualified me for the finals which I pushed this afternoon. I finished 6th out of 8 with a time of 20.78s. I was hoping to break 20s but I finished 6th overall and beat both of the two other T52's in the 200m and the 100m. Overall what a great experience, learned so much, met some new people and I'm ready to head home tomorrow! What a great week!