Ben Brown is a force to be reckoned with. An internationally competing wheelchair racer, he has taken the world of the sport by storm by achieving a cascade of honours, including being the 14th ranked wheelchair racer in the world in the 100m event.
“I just want to be one of the best in the world, and someday a paralympic and world champion,” Brown says, when asked what motivates him to train as hard as he does. “I see the opportunity I have and want to make the best of it.
Racing for me is the chance to make my body move as fast as possible in a wheelchair, just getting out on the track or road to go fast.”
Ueli Albert, head coach for Global Wheelchair Athletics, praised Brown’s hard work on the track and in the gym, saying, “I think the season has been going well. He’s had multiple personal bests.”
Albert noted Brown is consistently placing in the top 16.
“We’d like to improve on that ranking to get him up into the top 12 at least – he’s really close,” Albert said. “Ben was injured a little earlier in the season but considering that he’s having one of the best seasons he’s ever had.”
Even in what is technically a recovery week, Brown trains with exceptional rigor. His strength coach Elie Maroun noted he has been training diligently, and the results of that are beginning to show in competition.
“This week is a recovery week because I competed five times in the span of four weeks, so my body needed a lighter week,” Brown said, taking a break from his training at the Acadia University Sports Complex to chat with the King’s County News.
The next couple of weeks, Brown noted, will be a building phase of his training. This will see him performing more strenuous and intensive training in anticipation of the Canadian Championships and World Trials in Montreal.
Brown is also training with his eyes to the horizon, so to speak, with his intention to compete in the 2019 Parapan American Games, World Para-Athletics Championships and 2020 Paralympic Games on Tokyo.
“My job is to keep him as healthy as possible,” Maroun said. “Especially during the season. In the off season we do a lot of power training, push-pull (exercises( and we use the gym here.
“We look at the velocity of the bar and all that”
One area of particular focus in Brown’s training has been range of motion, Maroun noted, saying, “he wasn’t doing a lot of that early on, so we started opening up his joints and shoulders with range of motion exercises.”
That training is crucial in Brown’s sport, with his heavy reliance on his arms and shoulders, so Maroun said his job is “to keep Brown’s shoulders as healthy as possible.”
“He was a bit tight in the shoulders for a bit, but we fixed that fairly quickly,” Maroun said.
While Brown warmed up for another exercise, training at the Acadia University Athletic Complex, Maroun noted he has come a long way, and that “his push is a lot better.”
Brown agreed, adding that he personally noted a lot of improvement since the spring.
“I’ve had to get my chair modified due to skin issues, but the work we’ve been doing in the gym is very power specific,” Brown said.
Another pillar of Brown’s training regimen is endurance – something crucial in wheelchair racing.
“In the 100-meter, you need a little bit of power, but in the 400 and 800 you need a lot of power and endurance because you’re not just trying to get to a top speed, you’re trying to maintain that until you finish,” Brown said. “You want to finish just as fast as you started or faster.”
Brown broke down his strategy and what he seeks to accomplish in coming events noting that, “I have to max myself out for the first 150, just to get into the pack.”
“Then, I’m holding onto that the whole time and trying to last,” Brown said. “Then in the final 150 or 50 meters, you’re trying to either get around people or just stay in the pack in someone’s draft, so I get the time I’m looking for.”
Maroun noted the exercises he gets Brown to do include bench press and bench-pull – an exercise that sees a pronated Ben pull a weighted bar upward.
“We super-set those with multiple stretches, so there’s a lot of mobility even with the weighted exercises,” Maroun said.
“We’ll do stuff where he’s on his back, and bringing weight over his head, and then some manual stretching and medicine ball throws. Ben doesn’t have any core, so he needs to do everything on the ground or laying down on the bench. So, we do that stuff.”
Brown has racked up some serious distinctions as a racer in the 2019 season. He is currently 14th in the world for T53 100m and 800m – and 16th for T53 400m.
The following are Brown’s times and rankings in several meets he has competed in, in Canada and Europe.
ANS Warm-up Meet (Dartmouth, May 11)
• 100m - 16.61 meet record world champ and Parapan American Games Standard
• 200m - 29.92 meet record
• 400m - 57.83 meet record
• 800m - 1:55.40 Parapan American Games standard
• 1500m - 3:38.42 meet record
ParAthletics Grand (Nottwil Switzerland, May 24th)
• 100m - 16.61 12th world and Parapan American Games Standard
• 200m - 28.16 – 8th place
• 800m - 1:44:29 personal best and personal record and 12th world champ Parapan American Games standard
• 1500m - 3.21.24 personal best and personal record – 43rd place
Daniela Jutzeler (May 31st, Arbon Switzerland)
• 100m – 15.95 seconds, 8th world and Parapan American Games standard
• 400m – 53.14, 14th world Parapan American Games standard
• 800m – 1:45.58, 15th world Parapan American Games standard
Swiss Nationals (Arbon, Switzerland, June 1 and 2)
• 100m – 15.68, 12th world Parapan American Games standard
• 1500m – 3:16.87 personal best and personal record, 49th Parapan American Games standard
• 400m – 53.07, 12th world Parapan American Games standard
• 800m – 1.45.58, 15th, world Parapan American Games standard
• 200m – 27.75, 6th place
Soiree et Rouge #1 meet (Universite Laval, Quebec City, June 22)
• 100m heat – 15.59 seconds for second place
• 100m final – 15.57 seconds for second place
• 400m - 53.21 seconds for fourth place
• 1500m – 3:21.69 for fourth place