Canadian javelin thrower Alister McQueen is determined to end his season on a high at this weekend’s World Para Athletics Winter Challenge in Ancona, Italy, as he looks ahead to both the Parapan Am Games and the World Championships next year.
McQueen followed his Rio 2016 Paralympic silver with bronze at the London 2017 Worlds and now the F64 Para athlete is getting back to basics in a bid to enjoy a successful next twelve months.
“I’m looking for consistency in my run up and more from my technique so I can have something to build on leading in to next year and through the winter,” explained McQueen.
“I’ve been battling some inconsistencies, but if that’s going to happen then this was the year for that to happen - so now I can start ramping up for the Parapan Am Games next year, then the Worlds and leading towards Tokyo 2020.”
There’s also the small matter of the weather conditions at home in Calgary – in early October, McQueen awoke one morning to find a foot (30cm) of snow had fallen overnight.
The chance to compete in Italy in late October, with the sun still shining, was one he couldn’t resist.
“It’s always good to be able to end the season on a high note,” added the 27-year-old, sporting flip flops and shorts after returning from the Ancona training track. “It’s great to be here in the sunshine and hopefully get one more good result that will lead in to the off-season.”
Looking to Lima
Next year could prove a busy time for the Canadian, with the Parapan Am Games in Lima, Peru, in August then the World Championships in Dubai, UAE, in November.
A former ice hockey player – McQueen was part of the Canadian standing amputee ice hockey world title-winning teams in 2008 and 2010 – he then won two bronze medals on his Para athletics international debut at the 2011 Parapan Am Games in Mexico.
But disappointment followed at the Toronto Parapan Am Games in 2015, when he finished fourth.
“So I definitely want the opportunity to go down to Peru and have a good result,” he added. “It’s been a bit of a grind to get through this year, so next year is just very exciting. I’m not necessarily wishing it comes as fast as possible, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Rio 2016 saw McQueen smash his own personal best three times – a full two metres further than his previous best – and the confidence that big-stage performance brought him leaves him relishing every opportunity he can to compete, starting with Ancona 2018.
“I do think it’s an advantage to compete against other Para athletes as much as possible, so I’m trying to take advantage of that and see what happens,” he explained.
Hitting new heights
With less than two metres separating all three medallists at London 2017 – Trinidad and Tobago’s Akeem Stewart clinched gold with a world record 57.61m, Iceland’s Helgi Sveinsson won silver with 56.74m and McQueen threw a new lifetime best of 55.72m for bronze – McQueen admits he has one eye on the top of the podium, while the magical 60-metre mark “definitely comes across my mind once in a while.”
“I definitely think there is a lot more I can achieve, but I think less about the colour of the medal or the distance and more on the process and the approach now. I would love to get a gold medal, but it’s more thinking about what I have to do to get there instead of thinking about the end result.
“Now we have identified things we know we can improve I think it can result in hopefully another personal best next year - and hopefully another big jump (in performance) like I had in Rio.”