TOKYO – The Tokyo 2020 Canadian Paralympic Team now has 20 medals following Day 10 of competition with Danielle Dorris (Moncton, NB) racing a blazing 50m butterfly for her first Paralympic gold medal on the last day of Para swimming competition at the Games and Marissa Papaconstantinou (Toronto, ON) with her best-ever 100m for bronze. Among other results on Friday, Canada secured its final standings in wheelchair basketball and will now play for bronze in sitting volleyball following a loss in the semifinals.
MEDALS WON ON SEPTEMBER 3
GOLD – Danielle Dorris, Para Swimming, Women’s 50m butterfly S7
BRONZE – Marissa Papaconstantinou, Para Athletics, Women’s T64 100m
OVERALL MEDAL TOTAL
Danielle Dorris is a Paralympic champion, and has won Canada’s fourth gold medal of these Games. She rocketed to two women’s 50m butterfly S7 world records on the day, first at a time of 33.51 in the heats before breaking her own mark in the final in 32.99 seconds. The 18-year-old, who also competed at Rio 2016, now has two medals in Tokyo. She adds gold to the silver medal she won earlier this week in the 100m backstroke S7.
“This one (the gold) means so much more. Fly is very much the event that I love the most, so being able to medal, let alone win gold, is very special to me,” said Dorris.
“I’m very happy. I was not expecting to go that time. I was hoping for a 33 low, I’ll take the 32 high. It couldn’t have gone better.”
Aurélie Rivard (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) just missed the podium in her final race in Tokyo, finishing fourth in the women’s 200m individual medley SM10 – but did set a new Canadian record of 2:28.73. The 25-year-old concludes her Games with a remarkable five medals – two gold, one silver, and two bronze – to bring her career total to 10.
In the women’s 100m backstroke S6, Shelby Newkirk (Saskatoon, SK) was out-touched at the wall for bronze to finish in fourth place. En route, Newkirk set a new Canadian record in the morning heats before bettering it in the final at a time of 1:21.79.
“I really wanted to go out strong, and I really tried to push that second half. To come out with a Canadian record in fourth place, I’m definitely happy with that,” said Newkirk, who was racing in her first Paralympic final.
Three other swimmers were in finals: Alec Elliot (Kitchener, ON) was fifth in the men’s 200m individual medley SM10, Matthew Cabraja (Brampton, ON) set a new Canadian record of 1:05.97 en route to fifth place in the men’s 100m butterfly S11, and Morgan Bird (Calgary, AB) finished seventh in the women’s 100m butterfly S8.
Camille Bérubé (Gatineau, QC) and Tammy Cunnington (Red Deer, AB) also competed in their last events of the Games, and did not advance to the finals.
Marissa Papaconstantinou raced to her first Paralympic medal on Friday night in Tokyo – a bronze in the women’s T64 100m. She sprinted to a personal best time of 13.07, crossing the finish line just 0.03 seconds ahead of Fleur Jong of the Netherlands who was fourth.
“Because I was so focused on my lane and didn’t see too much around me, I just made sure I stayed on the gas all the way to the finish line,” said Papaconstantinou. “I remember feeling like I was pulling away from the rest of the group in those last 10 metres.”
It is the 21-year-old’s first podium at a major international championships – she finished ninth in this event at both the Rio 2016 Games and 2019 world championships.
“In this moment, it just completely solidifies all the work I’ve put in over the last few years, persevering through some really tough injuries, getting disqualified at my first Paralympic Games [in the 200m], and the COVID pandemic,” said Papaconstantinou. “There’s been so much, but this Games is the most prepared I’ve ever felt, coming into a major championship. I really just rode the wave all the way through and had a lot of fun doing it, so this is just the cherry on top.”
Canada’s other top Para athletics finish on the day was Amy Watt (Victoria, BC), fifth in the women’s T47 long jump, bettering her result from the Rio 2016 Games by one place.
In the heats, both Thomas Normandeau (Peace River, AB) and Austin Smeenk (Oakville, ON) advanced into their respective finals, which will be raced on Saturday. Normandeau had the seventh-best time in qualifying in the men’s T47 400m final while Smeenk is into the men’s T34 800m final with the fifth-fastest time.
In the 4x100m universal relay, Austin Ingram (Petawawa, ON), Papaconstantinou, Zachary Gingras (Markham, ON), and Jessica Frotten (Whitehorse, YT) finished third in their heat and did not advance to the final.
Playing opposite an undefeated Chinese team, Canada battled in the women’s sitting volleyball semifinals but came up short 3-0. China has now reeled off 12 straight sets in Tokyo as it advances into the gold-medal match, while Canada will play for bronze.
Currently ranked No. 5 in the world, Canada has a chance to finish on the podium. The team has already improved on its best Paralympic or world championship result with a guaranteed Top 4 result. They will face Brazil in the bronze medal game on Saturday.
“If you told me we would be playing for a medal, after just squeezing in with our last chance qualifier last year [in February 2020], I don’t think I would have believed you,” said team captain Danielle Ellis (White Rock, BC). “But this team has shown immense growth in the last two years and we’re ready to compete for a medal!”
Brianna Hennessy (Ottawa, ON) was the lone Canadian with a race on the Sea Forest Waterway schedule on Friday. Finishing second in her semifinal, she qualified for her first-ever Paralympic final in her debut Games, ultimately finishing fifth in the women’s va’a VL2 200m.
Canada will not advance to the medal rounds of the BC4 pairs event in boccia. Needing a top two finish in their five-nation group to advance, the team of Iulian Ciobanu (Montreal) and Alison Levine (Montreal), as well as reserve Marco Dispaltro (Montreal), opened the day with a 5-2 loss to Great Britain before closing out the competition by dropping a close 4-3 decision to the undefeated Slovakians in a match that was determined by the final ball. Canada finishes the round-robin with a 1-3 record.
“It was very disappointing to lose on a last ball from the opponent. Alison and Iulian played very well in this last game, and we believed in it until the end,” said head coach Mario Delisle. “We needed a win to qualify for the semifinal so unfortunately our journey ended with this match. I'm proud of everyone though. They gave it their all.”
Canada will head home from the Tokyo Games with a fifth-place finish in the women’s wheelchair basketball tournament and eighth in the men’s event.
The Canadian women ended on a winning note, posting a 68-49 victory over Japan. Taking charge of the game from the jump, Canada never trailed. All 11 players contributed to the triumph, and scoring was led by Rosalie Lalonde (Saint-Clet, QC) with 20 points, Kady Dandeneau (Pender Island, BC) with 14, and Cindy Ouellet (Quebec City, QC) with 13. With the win, Canada matches its result from Rio 2016.
“This shows the resiliency this team has,” said head coach Marc Antoine Ducharme about coming back strong from a tough quarterfinal loss. “It’s just the beginning for our team. We wanted to make sure we set the tone for the future and for the coming year. We wanted to show we can learn from a loss and bounce back from it.”
The men’s squad fell to Germany 68-56 in the 7/8 classification matchup to secure a final position of eighth, an improvement of three places from Rio 2016. After Canada led 21-19 after the opening 10 minutes, Germany won the remaining three quarters to take the game. Each team member saw the floor for Canada. Bo Hedges (Wonowon, BC) was the high scorer with 16 while Colin Higgins (Rothesay, NB) added 12 points.
“In the rankings, obviously we’re better than where we were in the past, so that’s the easy measure,” said Hedges. “But just with the way we’re playing and coming together and playing as a unit – that’s an improvement as well. It wasn’t just one guy going off and carrying us. It was a team effort, and that’s great to see.”
Olivia Meier (Winnipeg, MB) concluded her first Paralympic Games with a victory, coming back from a set down to oust Australia’s Caitlin Dransfield. She finishes the tournament with a 1-2 record in the women’s SL4 category and will not advance to the semifinals. The 22-year-old was Canada’s lone entry in the sport of Para badminton, which made its Paralympic debut this year.
‘’It was unreal. I made sure I took the time to really enjoy the moment,” said Meier about her first Games. “Hopefully this is the first step, and we’ll have more players in Para badminton at future Games.”
CLICK HERE for the complete Canadian Paralympic Team results on September 3.