Paralympic dream on hold for Sask. hopeful

Regina's Janz Stein planned to retire from competitive track and field in 2020.

Now that the 2020 Paralympics in Japan have been postponed for at least a year, the 38-year-old said he's going to postpone his retirement too, hoping he can qualify for the Games when they happen.

"I gotta push myself through this," he said. "The older I get the harder it is. Especially as a guy missing a leg trying to compete with kids."

Stein competes in two events: the 100 metre dash and long jump.

He said the extra year will allow him to rest a bit, but the physical strain of high-level competition isn't going to get easier.

"I'm 38, not 28 anymore ... and missing a leg," he said. "It's hard on your body and it's mentally hard."

As a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he said he has the mental toughness to get through it.

Physically, however, being able to stay on top of his craft will be a major hurdle, especially as COVID-19 shuts down many services.

"I can't just go running down on the street," he said. Doing so could damage his specialized prosthetic running leg.

Instead, he'll have to wait for tracks to re-open, or for grass to return so that he can train in fields. Stein likes to think outside the box, though, so he's in the process of building his own outdoor track in the meantime.

'She'd want me to keep going'

One of the things pushing Stein forward is the memory of his mother, who died of cancer in May.

He said he wanted her to get to see him compete in the Paralympics. He qualified for the 2016 Games in Brazil, but the outbreak of Zika virus brought that dream to a halt.

Four years later, his mom isnn't physically around to see him reach his goals, but Stein said she'll be with him as he prepares to qualify again.

"I always know that mom's looking after me, watching, making sure I wake up in the morning with my head held high no matter what," he said. "I know that she'd want me to keep going and not quit and succeed."

First and foremost, Stein is urging people to follow the advice of health officials, stay home and practice social distancing.

"I'd rather see everyone survive first than worry about a sport," he said. "I'm sure the NHL, NBA and every sport is in the same boat as me right now, so I'm not in it alone."