Konkle off and running at Canada Games
Owen Konkle kicked off his debut at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games in impressive fashion Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Beamsville native ran the Special Olympics 100-metre heat in a time of 12.13 to record the third-fastest time and advance to the medal race Friday at 10:45 a.m. at Canada Games Park.
The former Beamsville and District Secondary School student is loving the chance to compete at the Canada Games in his home region. On Tuesday, his parents and friends were on hand to cheer him on.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It feels really nice to meet new people.”
After the race, Konkle was busy trading pins with an athlete from Quebec.
Konkle qualified to compete at the Canada Games by placing first in the 100 metres and 200 metres at Athletics Ontario trials earlier this spring at York University. He is one of six sprinters, including Niagara Olympic Club member Shannon Swinson, who are representing Ontario.
Konkle arrived at the Canada Games on a roll. At the recent World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Mexico, he won the long jump, placed second in the 400 metres and won bronze in the 100 metres.
Konkle, who has been training every Saturday the past few years at the I Be Fast Track and Field Club in Toronto, loves track and field.
“It’s the people you can meet, the fun you can have with them and the racing,” he said.
He has been looking forward to competing in the Canada Games.
“I couldn’t wait to have fun on the track.”
He is not sure where he is going with his running career but he knows he is getting better all the time.
“My sprinting is better because I am getting my knees higher.”
Team Ontario Special Olympics athletics coach Jim Kruis is impressed with Konkle.
“Owen is a focused athlete and nothing fazes him,” he said. “I have run some track and field meets that Owen has been in and he always has his game face on on game day and he always brings his best run. He is a great athlete.”
Kruis is thrilled the Special Olympians get to compete at the Canada Games.
“It is unbelievable. This is the real deal and a big thing for all the coaches and especially the athletes.”
Craig Blackman has been coaching Konkle at I Be Fast for the past three years and has seen a lot of progress in the runner.
“He has made a lot of technical improvements and we have also moved him down to the sprint divisions. Before he was just doing the 800 metres and now he is performing in all three events.”
Blackman and Konkle are working towards the goal of the latter competing in the Paralympics one day.
“He and three other guys on our team are getting ready for that level,” Blackman said.
He feels Konkle is trending in the right direction but there is always work to do.
“Because we have been changing him to some of the other events, it is getting that speed and endurance as opposed to just distance endurance. That means there is a different technical way to run and it is coming.”
Next up for the former three-time gold medalist at the Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games are the 200-metre heats Wednesday morning at Canada Games Park.