By Chrös McDougall | Dec. 24, 2019, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

Daniel Romanchuk competes at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships on Nov. 13, 2019 in Dubai.

 

When Daniel Romanchuk won his first major wheelchair marathon in October 2018 in Chicago, there was reason to be optimistic about the 20-year-old.

Yet few could have predicted just how bright his future was, and how quickly he’d reach that potential.

Romanchuk, who turned 21 in August, followed up his Chicago Marathon victory with titles at New York City that November, and then in Boston and London earlier this year, before successfully defending his Chicago and New York City titles this fall.

Along the way, the Mount Airy, Maryland, native also notched a second-place finish in Tokyo and became the first U.S. man—elite or wheelchair—to win the World Marathon Majors series title.

“It’s going to take a while to sink in,” Romanchuk told TeamUSA.org after this year’s Chicago Marathon win, which also secured his berth into the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

And that’s just in the marathon.

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Romanchuk, who made his Paralympic debut in 2016 and competed in five track races ranging from 100 and 5,000 meters, continued to thrive on that medium this year as well.

In May, he broke his own world record in the T54 5,000-meter at a grand prix event in Switzerland. Then he capped the year in November by becoming a world champion for the first time. Just days after defending his title at the New York City Marathon, Romanchuk was in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, winning the 800-meter in championship-record time.

Romanchuk followed the path of many successful U.S. wheelchair racers when he joined the esteemed team at the University of Illinois. Training under Adam Bleakney, himself a former wheelchair racer and four-time U.S. Paralympian, and alongside other top U.S. racers like Tatyana McFadden has helped Romanchuk take a huge leap in the past year.

“There’s no place like it,” Romanchuk told TeamUSA.org earlier this year, “with the combination of coaching and athletes that are there. It’s just an incredible experience to be able to train there. We all push each other and learn from each other.”

After his historic performance in Dubai, Romanchuk described 2019 as “a test year for the Tokyo Games coming up” to see how he handled all of the travel and racing.

If that proves to be the case, then the world better watch out for Romanchuk at Tokyo 2020.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.