Former Blazer Sopotyk finds continued success at the para-athletic level
Former Kamloops Blazers forward, Kyrell Sopotyk, continues to advance his para-athletic calling as he acquired a trio of gold medals at the 2023 Canadian Track & Field Championships held in Langley, B.C. from July 27-30.
In the wake of a snowboarding accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down, Sopotyk became unwaveringly motivated to stay involved in athletics — however that may look.
Now, an unofficial spokesperson of perseverance and an inspiration to all, the two-season tenured Kamloops Blazer has transitioned into a successful multi-sport, para-athlete in both wheelchair basketball and track and field.
The passion he has regarding his new professions have also led him to compete in national events, with the most recent being the Canadian Track & Field Championships in Langley.
On his first day of competition, Saturday, Sopotyk posted a time of 2:19.75 in the men’s T53 800-meter wheelchair race to earn his first gold medal of the weekend-long event — the gold-earning accolade also besting his previously set personal time by six seconds.
Kyrell Sopotyk, a #Kamloops @blazerhockey alum, is setting new heights in para-athletics with numerous victories at the Canadian Track & Field Championships this weekend in Langley. https://t.co/dV9TY33ooZ pic.twitter.com/ON5F7aOvLF
— RadioNLNews (@RadioNLNews) July 30, 2023
The product of Aberdeen, Sask., had two more gold medals placed around his neck the following day, finishing in the top spot at the conclusion of the 400-meter and 1,500-meter wheelchair races.
The three, first-place accomplishments were historic ones for Sopotyk, as it marked the first time he earned gold at a nation-wide event.
The 2023 Track & Field Championships was not Sopotyk’s first appearance as a para-athlete at the national level, however.
Representing his home province of Saskatchewan at the 2022 Canada Winter Games in Niagara, Ont., and the 2023 Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island, Sopotyk took part in wheelchair basketball and track and field at the winter and summer games, respectively.
In Niagara, Team Saskatchewan’s wheelchair basketball team, along with Sopotyk, placed sixth, and, in his Summer Games debut in P.E.I., Sopotyk earned bronze — and his first podium placement — in the 1,500-meter wheelchair race.
In May, Sopotyk was also named Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s Junior Athlete of the Year.
Saskatchewan’s Kyrell Sopotyk is the Junior Athlete of the Year! Kyrell was a tournament all-star at the 2022 Junior Nationals and represented Canada at the Under-23 Worlds. Congrats Kyrell and keep it going! pic.twitter.com/CNcc9y83iF
— Wheelchair Basketball Canada (@WCBballCanada) May 14, 2023
Despite facing adversity at an early time in his athletic calling, the 21-year-old continues to inspire those around him while exceling in his newfound career as a para-athlete.