Canadian cyclists, swimmers get first crack at Paralympic medals in Beijing

    BEIJING, China, Sept. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's Paralympic cyclists and
swimmers have the first chance to win medals on day one of competition,
following an extravagant opening ceremony to the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games
on Saturday evening.
    Team Canada consists of 143 athletes competing in 17 of the 20 sports at
the Paralympic Games.
    "Every Canadian athlete here in Beijing has earned the right to represent
Canada. I can't wait to see them perform at the Paralympic Games," said
Canadian team chef de mission Debbie Low. "The competition begins in less than
12 hours, and this will truly be an opportunity for Canada to shine on the
international stage."
    Swimmers Valerie Grand'Maision and Stephanie Dixon are strong contenders
in their respective classes in the 100m butterfly. Preliminaries are held in
the morning and the finals in the evening.
    Other Canadians in the pool Sunday are Devin Gotell, Brian Hill, Chelsey
Gotell, Kirby Cote, Drew Christensen, Andrea Cole, Katarina Roxon and Brittany
Gray, all swimming the 100m butterfly.
    Brianna Nelson, Laura Jensen and Stephanie McDougall are competing Sunday
in the 100m individual medley.
    The only other sport in which Canadians could be vying for a medal on
Sunday is cycling. Daniel Chalifour and his cycling pilot Alexandre Cloutier,
Stephane Cote and his pilot Pierre-Olivier Boily, and Brian Cowie and his
pilot Devon Smibert will be looking to advance from the preliminaries in the
men's individual pursuit (tandem) Sunday morning to finals later in the day.
    Canadians Jean Quevillon and Brayden McDougall will also be racing Sunday
morning in hopes of making the finals in the afternoon in the men's CP3
individual pursuit.
    Genevieve Ouellet and her pilot Mathilde Hupin are competing Sunday in
the preliminaries of the women's 1 km time trial (tandem).
    Canada's boccia players have a full day of competition, the Canadian
women's goalball team takes on Sweden, the men's goalball team plays Iran, and
the men's wheelchair basketball squad is up against Germany.
    As well, table tennis player Ian Kent plays Israeli No. 5 ranked Zeev
Glikman in the men's individual class 8.
    Lauren Barwick, Jennifer McKenzie, Ashley Gowanlock and Eleonore Elstone,
begin their equestrian team event in Hong Kong as part of the Paralympic
    The first day of competition follows the official opening of the Beijing
Paralympic Games today. Canadian athletes were out in full force for the
Opening Ceremony, held at the Bird's Nest under the theme "Flying with the
    "It was really amazing to come through the tunnel and into the stadium
with all those people," said wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell of the
sold-out event. "It's hard to put the experience into words. It was special to
be with all the other Canadians, knowing everyone has worked so hard to
fulfill their dreams. I now just need to focus and put it together (for her
race later in the week)."
    After Chinese President Hu Jintao declared the Beijing 2008 Paralympic
Games open, the Paralympic torch was lit.

For further information:

For further information: Mary Beth Walker or Rachal Fleury, CPC Media
Relations, At-home Media Team, (613) 569-4333, ext. 227, Mobile: (613)
795-5169,; Norma Reveler, Press Chief, Beijing 2008
Canadian Paralympic Team, Mobile: (011) 86 13439622163, Press Office: (011) 86

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