Paracyclist Joey Desjardins laid it all out at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games last week, recording eighth and 11th place finishes and finishing as the top Canadian in his events.
The Hawkesbury athlete finished as the top rider of three Canadians entered in Men’s H3 Road Race on Wednesday, September 1, with a solid eighth place finish. The performance was his second top-Canadian performance in two days, after finishing 11th in the Men’s H3 Time Trial on Monday, August 30.
“Thank you for all the support you have given me over these past few days,” Desjardins wrote in a Facebook post to his friends family and community on September 2, the day after the road race. “It has made me so happy to read all of your messages of encouragement!”
Considered a longshot to make Cycling Canada’s Men’s H3 team for the 2020 Paralympics, Desjardins was aided by the games being delayed until 2021. He and teammates Charles Moreau and Alex Hyndeman were so close however, that the selection committee opted to send all three to compete in Men’s H3. By finishing as the top Canadian in the class, the local athlete unquestionably proved that he deserved the spot.
He was dreaming of a medal, but Desjardins said before the event his primary goal was to perform at his best and leave it all out on the track. The day after completing both of his races, the exhausted Paralympian wrote on Facebook that he had accomplished that objective.
“The games are coming to a close and I feel like I let it all out in both the TT and RR. Felt it this morning when I was physically and emotionally drained. “
While the Men’s H3 Road Race took place at 1:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, making it difficult to organize a watch party, approximately 75 people gathered at the Green Beaver Space pop-up park in downtown Hawkesbury on the evening of Monday, August 30, to watch Desjardins compete on television in the Men’s H3 Time Trial.
Joey’s wife Vanessa Desjardins watched the time trials at the downtown Hawkesbury event with the couple’s daughters Stella and Zayla. Vanessa was extremely happy with the results.
“Awesome! He did such a great job, we’re so proud of him,” Vanessa said after the race. “I think he’s going to be very pleased with the results.”
Joey’s father Michel was watching downtown and was visibly pleased with his son’s achievement in Tokyo.
“It’s great! It’s fantastic!” Michel Desjardins exclaimed. “He’s been working hard.”
“Eleven years ago, he had an accident, and look where he is now!”
Joey’s sister Sabrina Desjardins had similar positive comments about her brother. “I’m so excited, I’m so proud of him!”
The August 30 downtown watch party was organized by the Hawkesbury Rotary Club. Free pizza and homemade cookies were served, children painted the Olympic rings with their hands for presentation to Desjardins when he returns home, and viewers could leave greetings of support on a message board. The club’s Suzanne Hocquard said they were really pleased with the turnout on Monday night. The club has supported Joey Desjardins for seven years.
Cycling Canada also congratulated Desjardins for his performance in a post on its Facebook page after the road race for his performance as Top Canadian in both races.
– With files from James Morgan