Canada sparkled in Sydney 20 years ago: Top highlights from the 2000 Paralympic Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 19, 2020

Swimmers top podium standings; wheelchair basketball claims double gold


Jessica Sloan, Stephanie Dixon, Lisa Franks, the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams, and the women’s goalball team were among the Canadian heroes at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, which began 20 years ago this week. 

In what was the most competitive and strongest Paralympics to that point, the Canadian team kept pace with the rest of the world placing third in the medal standings (based on gold medals) with 38 gold, 33 silver and 25 bronze.

The Australians ranked first with 149 medals (63 gold) and Great Britain was second with 131 (41 gold).

It was a big bounce back for the Canadian Paralympic Team on the global stage after ranking seventh in Atlanta in 1996 and sixth in Barcelona in 1992. The Canadians returned to the top-three for the first time since 1984.

Canada’s most successful women’s wheelchair basketball team made it a three-peat in Sydney after consecutive golds in 1992 and 1996. Six players were on all three championship teams: Marni Abbott, Kendra Ohama, Chantal Benoit, Tracey Ferguson, Jennifer Krempien and Linda Kutrowski. 

Not to be outdone, the men’s wheelchair basketball team – which featured 21-year-old Patrick Anderson in his Paralympic debut – launched a successful decade with the first of three titles in four Games.
Sydney 2000 remains the first and only time Canada has taken the top podium in both the men’s and women’s events. Only two other countries have also achieved the feat – USA in 2016 and 1988 and Israel in 1968. 

Canada also notched another team sport gold medal as the women’s goalball squad snared the first of two straight Games crowns. The team included Viviane Forest who would go on to also star in Para alpine skiing at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. 

Swimming was the most successful sport for Canada in Sydney, as the nation finished first in the pool in medal count. Led by Calgary’s Jessica Sloan, Canadians won 48 medals, making up half of the team’s total. In her only Games appearance, the 17-year-old Sloan won a record six gold medals. 

It was also the start of a great Paralympic run for her swimming teammates Stephanie Dixon and Benoit Huot. Dixon collected five gold and two silver while Huot notched two gold and a silver. Both were only 16 years old at the time and would go on to have long and storied Paralympic careers, with both still leaders today in the Canadian Paralympic Movement in their post-competition careers. 

There were also legendary names in Para athletics, which scored a 37-medal performance.  Wheelchair racer Lisa Franks was the individual star with four gold and a silver but there was another racer about to make her mark. At her third Games, Chantal Petitclerc grabbed two more gold plus a pair of silvers, setting notice for dominating performances to come in 2004 and 2008.

Canada also won medals in Sydney in Para cycling, standing volleyball (which was a Paralympic sport from 1976 to 2000 and has since been replaced on the Games program by sitting volleyball), boccia, Para judo and Para sailing. 

Sydney 2000 remains one of the most successful Games in history and certainly kicked off the 21st century for Paralympic sport in Canada on a high note. 

Sydney 2000

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