A confident Morgan Bird flies into 50-m freestyle final at Paralympics

September 16, 2016

By Jim Morris

RIO DE JANEIRO _ Morgan Bird is feeling fast and confident heading into Friday night’s finals at the 2016 Paralympics.

Bird swam a Canadian record time of 31.49 seconds in the S8 50-m freestyle for the sixth best qualifying time in the morning preliminaries.

“It’s my favourite race,” said the 23-year-old from Calgary. “To make the final was a very good result. I’m very pleased.”

Tess Routliffe of Caledon, Ont., will be looking to win her second medal of the Paralympics when she races in the S7 100-metre freestyle. She qualified seventh in one minute, 15.70 seconds.

Zack McAllister of Lethbridge, Alta., reached his second finals of the Games. He qualified eighth in in the S8 50-m freestyle in 27.90 seconds.

Aurelie Rivard, who has won three gold and a silver medal, will lead the women’s 34-point 4x100-m medley relay.

Canada has won seven medals _ four gold, two silver, one bronze _ in the pool at Rio.

Bird, who is competing in her second Paralympics, broke the Canadian record of 31.73 she set in 2013.

“I have all the confidence in my preparation that I’ll be able to go faster tonight,” she said. “I have confidence I have done everything I could up until this point.

“I treat every race like it’s a final and give it all I’ve got.”

Stephanie Millward of Great Britain swam 30.82 seconds for the fastest qualifying time.

McAllister knew he’s have to swim close to his best time of 27.69 to reach the final.

“I wasn’t expecting to make the final,” he said. “I had to be around my best time. Luckily I was.”

McAllister was one of four late additions to the Canadian Para-swimming team after the International Paralympic Committee banned the Russian Federation from competing. He’s been pleased with his performances.

“I think it’s a lot better than my expectations,” he said.

“I’m pretty relaxed. I basically have to do the exact same thing I did this morning, except have a better touch and maybe kick.”

China’s Yinan Wang had the fastest qualifying time of 26.80 seconds.

Earlier this week Routliffe won silver and set a Canadian record in the S7 200-m individual medley. She won the 100-m freestyle at last year’s Parapan American Games in Toronto and holds the Canadian record of 1:14.50.

McKenzie Coan of the U.S., led all qualifiers in 1:09.74.

In other results Thursday Friday morning:

_ Tyler Mrak of Surrey, B.C., was 22nd in the S13 100-m freestyle in 1:00.01.

_ Jean-Michel Lavalliere of Quebec City was 12th in the S7 100-m freestyle in 1:10.27.

_ Abi Tripp of Kingston, Ont., was 10th in the in the S8 50-m freestyle in 32.39 while Sabrina Duchesne of St.-augustin, Que., was 13th in 34.87.