RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (September 14, 2016) – Christine Gauthier (Pointe-Claire, QC) and Erica Scarff (Mississauga, ON) have both qualified for the Paralympic finals tomorrow in the first ever Paralympic Games to include Paracanoe events.
“It’s exciting,” said Gauthier of the sport’s debut in the Paralympic Games. “I’m hoping in Canada more people will be joining in. There are a lot of different disabilities so giving more options for sports gives a chance for others to find something.”
Gauthier finished third in her opening heat of the Women’s KL2 200m, then won her semi-final to qualify for tomorrow’s final. Gauthier is a five-time World Champion in Paracanoe. She will race the final tomorrow morning at 9:16 EST at Lagoa Stadium in Rio.
Scarff opened her first Paralympic race with a third place finish in her heat of the Women’s KL3 200m. She finished third in her semi-final to secure a spot in tomorrow’s final taking place at 8:52 a.m. EST.
“I was getting really tired in my semi-final heat. I could see other boats starting to pass me but I just kept fighting,” Scarff commented after her race. “My first goal was to qualify for the final. I've done that so I'm going to be happy regardless of where I finish but I'm excited to have a shot to fight for the medals.”
Scarff finished sixth at the last Paracanoe World Championships in May 2016 to qualify the boat for Canada for the Paralympic Games.
Canoe Kayak Canada has been a leader internationally in developing the sport of Paracanoe and steering it towards Paralympic inclusion. Canada hosted the first international conference for Paracanoe in 2008 and the first ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships to include Paracanoe events in Dartmouth, NS in 2009. The ICF’s Paracanoe committee is chaired by Canada’s John Edwards.