2014

A five-medal day for Team Canada in London - Grand'Maison brings the house down with world record, gold medal at Paralympic Games

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LONDON, UK, Sept. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - It was a productive day for Team Canada in London today with three athletics medals and two swimming medals, including gold by Valerie Grand'Maison of Montreal in world record time in the women's 200-metre individual medley. Amber Thomas of Drayton Valley, Alta., added a silver in the women's 400 freestyle.

Athletics medals included two silver and a bronze: Jason Dunkerley and guide runner Josh Karanja, both of Ottawa, Ont., and Brent Lakatos of Dorval, Que., won silver medals while Virginia McLachlan of Windsor, Ont., won bronze. All three athletics podiums were recorded in new Canadian record times.

Dunkerley and guide runner Josh Karanja won silver in the men's T11 visually impaired 5000-metres. The duo crossed the line in a Canadian record time of 15:34.07; cutting 10 seconds off the previous record.

"I'm happy, we ran hard and got a personal best, I think there's a lot more to come from us, especially in this event," said Dunkerley. "Josh keeps pushing me and it's been a big part of our success this year."

Dunkerley and Karanja wrap up these Games with two medals, having earlier won bronze in the 1500-metres Dunkerley will return to Canada a four time Paralympian with five medals to his credit. 

Brent Lakatos won his third silver medal of the Games today in the men's T53 wheelchair 200-metres. Lakatos crossed the finish line in a Canadian record time of 25.85 seconds.

"This is a huge personal best for me, I didn't win but I gave it everything I had," said Lakatos. "I'm thrilled, this has been a great Games for me, I have my first three Paralympic medals."

Virginia McLachlan (Windsor, Ont.) got the medal party started winning bronze in the women's T35 100-metres in a personal best and Canadian record time of 16.42 seconds.

"I really wanted to chase down those two girls, but that's ok, I'm more than happy with bronze," said McLachlan. "I came into these Games honoured and excited to represent Canada, to step on to that podium twice, I can't even put that into words."

McLachlan completes her first Paralympic Games experience with two bronze medals. She won bronze on the first day of athletics competition in the T35 200-metres.

In the women's S13 200 IM for visually impaired swimmers, Grand'Maison clocked two minutes and 27.64 seconds eclipsing the previous world mark of 2:28.15 set by Chelsey Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., at the 2008 Games.

"I wasn't expecting a world record," said Grand'Maison now with three medals at the Games and nine in two Paralympics. "This is why I train, this is why I work so hard and make those sacrifices: to surprise myself. It's really worth it, it's the best feeling in the world."

"I just focused on my race," said Grand'Maison, who took the lead in the breaststroke leg. "I knew what the other girls were going to do and in the 200 IM I'm in my comfort zone.  I knew I could come back strong and the crowd was behind me. But I didn't realize I was going so fast."

Rebecca Anne Meyers of the U.S., was second in 2:30.13 and her compatriot Kelley Becherer third in 2:30.36.

In the women's S11 400 freestyle for blind swimmers, world record holder Daniela Schulte of Germany took the gold in 5:14.56, the 18-year-old Thomas followed in 5:15.48 and Cecilia Camellini of Italy was third in 5:20.27.

"It's a really exciting feeling, but I was so close to gold," said Thomas with her first career Paralympic medal.  "When I got to the end I was absolutely drained so I don't know if I could have pushed it any harder.  But you always do look back and there are tiny things I could have done better, it happened so fast so it's hard to think when you are swimming."

Thomas has competed in five events so far at the Games reaching four finals.  In addition to her silver tonight she was also fourth in the 100 freestyle, fifth in the 100 breaststroke and sixth in the 50 freestyle.

"I never felt as nervous for a race as the one tonight," said Thomas.  "A got a little bit of confidence from the prelims but not as much as I needed."

ATHLETICS

Earle Connor of Calgary, Alta., placed fourth in the men's T42-100-metres in 12.65 seconds. "This is not the end of the book; I just wish I could have brought Canada home a gold medal."

In the final of the women's T54 wheelchair 1500-metres Diane Roy of Sherbrook, Que., finished fourth in 3:37.17. Diane's last event at the Paralympic Games is the marathon on Sunday. In the same final Keira-Lyn Frie of Saskatoon, Sask., placed eighth in 3:38.58. Frie lines up tomorrow in the heats of the 100-metres at 11:33am local time (6:33am eastern time).

In the day's morning session Éric Gauthier of St-Faustin Lac-Carré, Que., finished fifth in his heat of the T54 wheelchair 200-metres in 28.26 seconds, he did not advance to the final.

Brandon King of Brampton, Ont., and guide runner Andrew Heffernan of Peterbough, Ont., crossed the finish line of the men's T11 visually impaired 200-metres in a seasonal best of 24.29 seconds. The duo crossed the line in a seasonal best time of 24.29 seconds but did not advance to the semi finals.

CYCLING

Robert Labbé rode to the sixth place of the H1 category today in London as the 2012 Paralympic Games continued with the second day of road races.  

Labbé, of Québec, QC completed the 48km race in 1:59.44, which was won by Mark Rohan of Ireland with a time of 1:53.09. Switzerland Tobias Fankhauser took second, while Wolfgang Schattaur of Austria crossed the line in third.

"I was in the pack for the first two rounds. I had a very good start. My arms responded well to the efforts. I had a small loss of energy midway, but I finished strong. Today it was windy, and it was a good 48km ride. I had to manage the efforts, the distance. I love the course here. My strength is not the turns, and there were lot of corners here today," said Labbé. "What I like are the climbs. Anyone can win on a flat course, but on the climbs, you can see which ones are strong. I will never forget the end of the race today, with the large crowd applauding."

In the H2 race, Mark Beggs completed the difficult course in tenth place after 1:52.12 of racing. "I have the impression I did all my homework as I should have done, and failed the exam. I gave everything I had, stayed with the pack for the first few laps and was dropped. I decided to fight until the very end, and have no regrets."

Mark Ledo of Maple, Ontario, pulled out of the H3 race midway through the race, at the 16km mark, suffering from muscle spasm.

The road cycling events at the 2012 Paralympic Games end tomorrow with the remaining category, the fast and exciting tandems

SWIMMING

Canada was seventh in the women's 4X100 medley relay with quadruple medallist Summer Mortimer of Ancaster, Ont., Morgan Bird of Calgary, Katarina Roxon of Stephenville, N.L., and double silver medallist Brianna Nelson of Victoria.

"We had a great race, everyone swam fast and gave their all for Canada," said Mortimer.

After nine days of competition, Canadian Para swimmers have collected four gold, nine silver and two bronze.

The swimming competition ends Saturday.

WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL

The Canadian women's wheelchair basketball team's Paralympic journey is now complete, exiting the tournament in sixth place after a 73-70 loss to China Friday morning. Once again, Janet McLachlan of Vancouver, British Columbia, led the way for Canada, scoring 22 points and adding 17 rebounds - her seventh double-double of the tournament. Katie Harnock, of Elmira, Ontario, and Quebec City's Cindy Ouellet both chipped in 14 points, while six-time Paralympian Tracey Ferguson (Holland Landing, ON) added eight.

With the score deadlocked at halftime (29-29), China began to pull away in the third quarter, outscoring Canada 18-13 in the frame. Canada managed to bring the game back to level terms late in the fourth quarter, and even took a three-point lead with three minutes remaining, but clutch free throw shooting by the Chinese guaranteed the Asian nation the win, and the fifth place finish.

Although the women's tournament is complete, the men square off against Australia in tomorrow's Paralympic final, with the gold medal game tipping off at 9:15 p.m. BST.

WHEELCHAIR RUGBY

Canada kept Sweden at bay to win today's wheelchair rubgy match and advance to the semi-finals against the United States. With rapid back and forth action, the final score of 53-52 came down to who retained possession when the buzzer went off.

Canada last played Sweden at the Canada Cup earlier this year.  That match was decided with a one point margin, similar to today's outcome.  Both teams and the fans that packed the Basketball Arena at Olympic Park knew they were in for a battle.

"We knew it was going to be a hard game," said Trevor Hirschfield.  "Sweden's played tough that last few times we've faced them, so we knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we wanted to wear them down and in the end we did and came out on top."

In the dying moments of the match, with Canada up by only one point, Mike Whitehead threw a long pass to Trevor Hirschfield. The ball narrowly avoided a Swedish player and Trevor sprinted hard to catch the ball and cross the line with a fraction of a second to spare. Canada went up by a crucial two points in the defining moment of the game.

With 10 seconds on the clock, veteran Garett Hickling was triple-teamed with the ball trying to avoid a jump ball situation. In the process, he swung the ball towards a Swedish player's face and both were called for technical fouls. With four seconds remaining, the game was three-on-three for some of the most dramatic action of this Paralympic games.

"We always feel that the game's going to come to us in the third or fourth quarter with the work the guys have done with their strength and conditioning," said head coach Kevin Orr. "The guys held their composure and I'm really proud of the way they played. They played to win the game. You can play not to lose, but they played to win and I'm really proud of the way they came through."

Canada will face rivals the United States in the semi-finals tomorrow afternoon.  In a rematch of the infamous 2004 match recorded in the Murderball documentary, Canada will look to best top ranked United States and make a play for the gold medal.

"We match up well with the USA," added coach Orr. "They're deep, they have a good team, they're well coached, but we have a great chance. We're deep, we're balanced, we have a young guy that's really making an impact for us. We have nothing to lose at this point. The USA has everything to lose and we have everything to gain. We came here for a gold medal and that's what we're aiming for."

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 member organizations.

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SOURCE CANADIAN PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE (CPC)



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