New Leader Ambassador Marissa Papaconstantinou

Being born without a right foot has never got in the way of Marissa Papaconstantinou pursuing what she wanted to achieve in life. Originally a soccer and basketball player, Marissa fell in love with track after being fitted for her first running prosthetic (blade) at the age of 12 at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (whom she is currently a proud ambassador for).

Introducing THI Canada New Leaders Ambassador Paralympic Bronze Medalist Marissa Papaconstantinou

Being born without a right foot has never got in the way of Marissa Papaconstantinou pursuing what she wanted to achieve in life. Originally a soccer and basketball player, Marissa fell in love with track after being fitted for her first running prosthetic (blade) at the age of 12 at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (whom she is currently a proud ambassador for).

Marissa joined a local track club in Scarborough, the city she calls home, becoming a Canadian record holder just a year later. She competed in her first World Championships at 16 years of age, making it to the finals of both the 100m and 200m. At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Marissa finished 9th in the 100m but was disqualified during the 200m finals for stepping on the line. Seeking redemption at the 2017 World Championships, Marissa placed 6th in the 100m. Then while sprinting to the finish line in podium position in the 200m, Marissa tore her hamstring. Despite agonizing pain and heartbreak, she got up and finished the race in dramatic fashion, with the support of 40,000 cheering fans. Images from that moment went viral on social media all around the world.

Fully recovered from her injury, Marissa carried the momentum from a Canadian record T64 200m run set at the 2021 Toronto High Performance Twilight event to an incredible performance at the Tokyo Paralympics. Breaking the Canadian record again with a 27.08 second run in the T64 200m event, Marissa went on to win a Bronze Medal in the T64 100m event with another personal best and Canadian record time of 13.07 seconds.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

When we asked her to share something that inspires her, Marissa provided us with the quote from Kobe Bryant: “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise”. It reminded us of an Aristotle teaching, that “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour. We can vouch that Marissa is a living example of living by courage, and for this she serves as an inspiration to us all!

Off the track, Marissa is studying sports media at Ryerson University with aspirations of becoming a sports broadcaster. She is also a proud dog mom to Myles, a cockapoo. Marissa is an experienced public speaker sharing her messages and experiences to youth about never giving up, resiliency, and believing anything is possible.

We are excited to be announcing Marissa Papaconstantinou’s new Ambassador role for The Hellenic Initiative Canada’s New Leaders section, and we look forward to working with her on our exciting future plans!

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