In recent years, gold is the colour you would commonly see dangling from the neck of Stefan Daniel, the world's top-ranked para-triathlete.
The Cochrane area athlete was recently named Triathlon Canada's Overall Elite Triathlete-of-the-Year for the second-straight season and it falls fast upon the steps of another landmark season.
Daniel capped off 2018 with three major victories. In September, he won gold in Edmonton at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Paratriathlon Series. On Australia's Gold Coast he successfully defended his world title against long-time opponent Martin Schultz, of Germany. That's world championship number three for Daniel.
As part of the University of Calgary Dinos cross-country team, he finished 10th overall in the USports Canadian university championship and helped the team captured their first-ever national title after being part of their silver medal performance the year previous. It's something he says he'll never forget.
Only 21, Daniel has an impressive resume that speaks volumes about his athletic prowess and an undying desire to be the best. He's young for the sport where it's not uncommon to continue competing at a high level into your lates 30s and early 40s. He was a mere 16 in 2013 when he participated in his first world championship and won bronze. In 2014, he upgraded that to silver and it has been gold ever since.
"I had some success when I was really young," says Daniel. "I was 16 when I got my first bronze medal at the world championships and that was a pretty big eye-opener for me. I didn’t expect this much opportunity this early but it’s been exciting and I’m hoping for more success in the future."
The 2019 season will be a stepping stone to the 2020 Paralympics Games in Toyko and Team Canada's schedule is specifically designed with the games in mind. Daniel says he'll be competing in Japan in May, doing a test event in Tokyo in August then heads to the world championships in Switzerland.
Daniel won silver in his first Paralympics in 2016.
Being born with a bilateral radial club hands, his right arm being most affected, doesn't make him any less of a competitor. That point is well illustrated in his Nike commercial released in October which highlights his competitive spirit and determination.
"I'm not going to be the best parathlete in the world, I'm going to be the best athlete in the world... period," he states at the commercial's close.
Daniel enjoys the relationship he has established with the company.
"Nike’s been a great sponsor. It’s been very cool meeting new athletes through them and it has great to be a part of what they’re all about."
Daniel intends to continue to base himself here.
"It’s obviously a lot of work and I spend a lot of time training. I tried to enjoy what I do as much as I can. It’s fun having different groups to train with and I really love Cochrane and Calgary; that’s where I’m based out of and I always want to keep it here."
He's in his third year of eligibility with the Dinos and is studying business. Daniel attended the St. Timothy High School in junior high and is a graduate of the National Sport School of Calgary.