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LONDON, Sept. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - Day 10 at the Paralympic Games started and
ended with gold for Canada, as tandem cyclists Robbi Weldon (Thunder
Bay, ON) and Lyne Bessette (Knowlton, QC.) dominated the 80 km road
race earlier in the day and the men's wheelchair basketball team took
down the defending champions Australia 64-58 in the evening.
Swimmer Amber Thomas of Drayton Valley, Alberta made an incredible
comeback to win the bronze medal in the women's 200-metre individual
Weldon and Bessette crossed the finish line with a time of 2:08.26, with
a lead of 34 seconds on their closest competitors and silver
medallists, the tandem from Spain.
"I am very happy," said Weldon, a former cross-country skier turned
cyclist after the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. "Lyne and I are
thrilled about this golden performance. It's good to end on a golden
note. We had a fantastic race. Everyone was strong in the peloton. We
had respect for everyone."
The two tandems, Canada and Spain, separated from the main peloton in
the fifth of eight laps, and they managed to increase their lead
throughout the rest of the race.
"Fortunately for us, no one followed our big attack but Spain," said
Weldon. "We worked hard non-stop until the end. Anything can happen
with bikes as we saw with the guys in the time trial [the men tandem
punctured with 1 kilometre to go]."
"What we wanted to do was to be patient in the early laps," added
Bessette. "At the mid-point, the goal was to make the race a little
harder if nothing had happened."
The two fought hard together in the break, and ultimately, Canada's
golden girls placed an attack on the very last lap, which proved to be
the winning move.
"Although they did not have much experience, the Spanish tandem is very
strong, so it was perfect for us. Then, it was up to me to decide when
it was time to attack for the win," said Bessette.
"We are very happy with this particular medal. We were disappointed with
the time trial so we wanted to take the win today. It ends well the
Games," said Bessette, who also took the opportunity to announce her
retirement from Para-cycling. "I wanted a happy ending on this last
day. I can leave happy. It was a very rewarding experience, which
grounded me as I worked with exceptional people."
The Canadian Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team won its third gold medal
in the past four Paralympics on Saturday, beating the defending
champions from Australia 64-58. Canada avenges the previous final in
2008 when Australia ended Canada's bid for a three-peat.
Canada concludes the tournament with a sterling 8-0 record and
solidifies its dominance on the world's biggest stage. The victory
marks Canada's 31st win since 2000, improving their overall record to
31 wins and 1 loss in the last twelve years. They have collected three
gold and one silver medal in that time.
Patrick Anderson, of Fergus, Ontario, scored a game-high 34 points, 10
rebounds, and 8 assists for Canada. Number 12, in 2012, posted career
numbers, finishing the tournament on top, or near the top of every
offensive category. He averaged better than a double-double per game,
and in eight games, totaled a tournament leading 200 points (25 points
per game), 88 rebounds (11 rebounds per game) and 64 assists (8 assists
Canada got off to a slow start in the gold medal game, and had trouble
hitting buckets early on. They took their first lead at 4:12 of the
second quarter and were shooting just 41% from the field. Similar to
their semi-final victory over Great Britain, the third quarter proved
to be Canada's best. They outscored Australia 20-15 in the third frame,
before sealing the victory with stout defending late in the fourth
In the women's S11 200 IM for blind swimmers, Mary Fisher of New Zealand
broke the world record clocking 2:46.91 for the gold medal. Daniela
Schulte of Germany was second in 2:49.57 and Thomas followed in 2:59.00
for her second medal of the Games. She was second in Friday's 400
"I'm excited about the medal," said Thomas, 18. "I was absolutely
drained in the last 50 but I just kept going and going, pushing a
little harder. I was kind of feeling to the side where Daniela was,
but I couldn't tell."
Thomas was seventh after the backstroke leg and sixth after butterfly
then was involved in a heated battle with three other swimmers for the
bronze. It was only in the last 50-mettre freestyle that she broke
free from the pack.
"It was the strongest race I think I could do," she said. "I had a very
good first four events but I was tired coming into these final two but
still they were very successful. I took four seconds off my personal
best in this race and five seconds off of last night's race."
Canadian track and field athletes recorded a pair of top eight finishes
today in athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Keira-Lyn
Frie of Saskatoon, Sask., and Nathan DeWitt of Surrey, B.C., finished
sixth and eighth respectively in the wheelchair T54 and T34
Frie took sixth in the women's T54 100-metres in 17.26 seconds. "This
was a tough start, but I got up to speed in the end," said Frie. "It
was OK, I'm looking forward to learning from this experience."
Frie wraps up her first Paralympics Games with three top eight finishes.
She also finished eighth in the wheelchair 1500 and 5000-metres.
DeWitt was eighth overall in the T34 wheelchair 100-metres in a time of
"I'm very happy with my race, all I wanted was to make the finals, and I
did," said DeWitt. "I pushed as hard as I could. You can't be
disappointed with that."
The men's T53-T54 wheelchair 4x400-metres relay team of Alexandre Dupont
of Bradwell, Sask., Brent Lakatos of Dorval, Que., Colin Mathieson of
Winnipeg, Man., and Curtis Thom of Mississauga, Ont., clocked 3:17.50
for second in their heat. The time was not enough to advance to the
final and they finished fifth overall.
Track and field competition at the 2012 Paralympic Games wraps up
tomorrow with three Canadians competing in the wheelchair marathon.
Diane Roy of Sherbrooke, Que., Josh Cassidy of Ottawa, Ont., and Michel
Filteau of St. Jean Baptisite, Que., race at 11:30.a.m. local time
(6:30 a.m. eastern time).
In the women's 80km road race won by Weldon and Bessette, the Dutch team
finished in third place, edging the second Canadian tandem of Geneviève
Ouellet and Émily Roy in a nail-biting finish for the bronze.
"I'm glad with the fourth position in a race that our teammates won,"
said Ouellet. "We gave everything we had, and it is still surprising
for a small tandem like ours, not very powerful, to finish second in a
sprint for the bronze."
In the men's tandem race, Canada's tandem of Daniel Chalifour and
Alexandre Cloutier, the reigning Canadian Champions in the event,
finished their race in ninth spot.
The tandem rode safely within the peloton for the first 88 km of 104 km,
and unfortunately missed the attack that will eventually prove to be
the winning move.
The road race for the tricycle was also held today. Toronto's Shelley
Gautier was lapped and did not finish the race, while Marie-Eve Croteau
did not start as she is still recovering from an injury.
The team relay was also held to end these Paralympic Games. Canada's
team comprised of Robert Labbé (H1), Mark Beggs (H2) and Mark Ledo (H3)
The Canadian Para swimming team ends the competition with an impressive
16 medals (four gold, nine silver and three bronze).
"Our target was 15 podiums and we got 16, this is great," said Canada's
head coach Craig McCord of Vancouver. "I'm so proud of the team, they
dealt with their schedules the way it rolled out whether their best
events were early on or as in the case for Amber, later in the meet."
In the women's S13 100 breaststroke final for visually impaired
swimmers, triple medallist Valerie Grand'Maison of Montreal was also
involved in a four-way battle for the bronze and took sixth spot. She
clocked a personal best 1:22.16 and was only 0.66 seconds from third
"I don't want to know how close I was," said Grand'Maison, who won gold
and broke the world record in the 200 IM on Friday. "I'm just really
pleased with the time. I did this race for fun so I could enjoy the
moment. It was a tough year in preparation with these Games and I'm
extremely proud of those medals. They are worth so much to me."
In the men's S11 200 IM, Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver possibly raced
for the last at time at the Paralympic Games finishing seventh in
2:30.22. A four-time Paralympian, Tildesley deemed the London Games as
"I had the most fun here out of all of them," he said. "Even though I
didn't win any medals, it was just an incredibly joyful experience.
When they put that accreditation on it was such a good feeling. This
is where I should be. There was no anxiety or nervousness."
While veterans like triple medallist Benoit Huot of Montreal and
Grand'Maison excelled at these Games, youngsters such as Thomas and
double silver medallist Brianna Nelson of Victoria leave no doubt
Canada is going to have a strong Para swimming team for many more
"We always said we were here not only for London, but also for Rio,"
said McCord. "Canada is really well set up for those Games as well."
Summer Mortimer, 19, of Ancaster, Ont., was Canada's most successful
Para swimmer at the Games with four medals including two gold. Huot
and Grand'Maison added three each. All four gold were won in world
Canada defeated rival United States 50-49 in today's semi-final
wheelchair rugby match at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. After
taking an early lead, Canada was up by six points at the half. With
only 1:46 remaining in the match, the U.S. tied it up for the first
time, drawing gasps from a packed arena.
In an unimaginable final minute, U.S. player Chuck Aoki scored to tie it
at 49 per side and allowed Canada the opportunity to make a final
substitution replacing rookie Zak Madell with veteran Garett Hickling.
With the clock winding down, Hickling and Mike Whitehead stole the ball
forcing the U.S. to draw two defensive fouls in a matter of seconds in
an attempt to regain possession. With less than a second left, Hickling
crossed the goal line to give Canada the win.
"The key was just our four guys coming out very strong, ready to play,
on fire," said Hicking. "We had a plan, we had a strategy. I think the
USA was shell shocked by us. We stuck to our plan and guys continued to
work and do what was needed."
"We started off really confident," said key player Trevor Hirschfield.
"We knew we had to put it on their throats early and push hard. What we
did in that first quarter was amazing. We knew they weren't going to
give up. They're the States. They kept fighting and fighting. But in
the end, we showed up. We pulled that one out."
Head coach Kevin Orr was less demure in his praise for his players.
"When you get a guy like Garett Hickling, he's going to battle for you.
That's the kind of leadership you need on a team. Garett's a warrior.
That's what sport's all about. It's a war. You've got to have warriors
to go out there and our guys went out and that."
On low-pointer Hirschfield, coach Orr was particularly pleased. "I think
Trevor Hirschfield was the reason why we won this," he said. "He's the
heart and soul. He was determined to win."
Zak Madell led in scoring for Team Canada with 14 points, followed by
Trevor Hirschfield with 11 plus a team point, Mike Whitehead with 11,
Garett Hickling with seven and David Willsie, Ian Chan and Fabian
Lavoie with two points each.
This loss will mark only the second time the U.S. has missed out on a
gold medal in international competition in the history of the sport.
They were defeated by Canada in the 2002 World Championship final and
again defeated by Canada in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, as
captured in the Academy Award nominated documentary, Murderball.
In an ironic twist, Canada's head coach Kevin Orr was the coach for Team
USA during the Athens Games.
"Winning this game is a hard emotion to describe," he said after the
match. "When we were coming out, the USA guys were chirping in the
tunnel and our guys were just staring straight ahead, focused on what
they had to do. The key to the game was focus. We came out there and
did what we had to do."
"We came here to win a gold medal. It doesn't matter if we're underdogs
today, tomorrow or forever, we came here to win," he added.
Canada will be making their third Paralympic gold medal match
appearance, having last sought the venerable prize in 2004 against New
Zealand where they obtained silver. Prior to Athens, the last time
Canada competed in the gold medal final was the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic
Games, when wheelchair rugby was still a demonstration sport.
Canada will face Australia tomorrow, September 10 at 14:15 London time
in the gold medal game. This will be the second time Canada faces
Australia in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Canada lost to them in
their first match in London, 52-64.
Looking at their chances tomorrow, Team Canada is using the experience
gained from their earlier round robin match against Australia.
"We've got to come out the same way we came out today. We've got to keep
firing. Keep pushing," said Hirschfield. "They've got one guy, so we've
got to get him tired and make him work for every goal end to end."
"Our starting lineup's changed. Our young guys have improved drastically
and we're going to come out ready to send a statement," added Hickling.
About the Canadian Paralympic Committee
The Canadian Paralympic Committee is a non-profit, private organization
with 46 member sports organizations dedicated to strengthening the
Paralympic movement. The Canadian Paralympic Committee's vision is to
be the world's leading Paralympic nation. Its mission is to lead the
development of a sustainable Paralympic sport system in Canada to
enable athletes to reach the podium at the Paralympic Games. By
supporting Canadian Paralympic athletes and promoting their success,
the Canadian Paralympic Committee inspires all Canadians with a
disability to get involved in sport through programs delivered by its
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SOURCE: CANADIAN PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE (CPC)
For further information:
Press Chief / Chef de Presse
Canadian Paralympic Team / Equipe paralympique canadien
London : 07510 875 867
Assistant Press Chief / Chef de Presse adjointe
Canadian Paralympic Team / Equipe paralympique canadien
London : 07510 875 869