Back at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Canada was threatening the podium in every team sport.
The nation was coming off a four team-medal performance at the 2000 Sydney Games, its best to date, with eyes on a repeat.
Fast forward a quadrennial and Athens would indeed mark a second straight Paralympic Games that Canada earned four medals in team sports, a total it has not matched since.
In Athens, the women’s goalball and men’s wheelchair basketball teams both successfully defended their Games titles with gold medals. The teams were led respectively by Viviane Forest, who would later also become a legend in Para alpine skiing in 2010, and Patrick Anderson.
The women’s goalball squad defeated USA 3-1 in the final while in men’s wheelchair basketball it was Canada 70, Australia 53 in the gold medal game.
A silver was added in wheelchair rugby, a squad which included current national team members Fabien Lavoie, Mike Whitehead and Patrice Simard. The Canadians lost a 31-29 squeaker to New Zealand in the final.
The women’s wheelchair basketball team concluded an incredible run of medals at four consecutive Games – which included three gold – with a bronze. After falling to USA in the semis, the Canadians beat Germany 63-47 for third spot.
Canada’s top individual performers in Athens were wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc and swimmer Benoit Huot with five gold medals apiece.
Heading into the Tokyo Games this summer, Canada is currently qualified in five team sports: men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, women’s goalball, wheelchair rugby and women’s sitting volleyball. Canada also competes in a last chance men’s sitting volleyball qualifier in June.
When the curtain fell on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, there were many memorable individual performances, but one of the big surprises was Canada not stepping on the podium in any of the traditional team sports. The last time that happened was at the 1980 Paralympic Games in Arnhem, Netherlands.
Canada’s teams will certainly be searching for a return to the podium in Tokyo.
This year, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Pfizer Canada are celebrating 25 years of supporting and promoting the Paralympic Movement together. Throughout 2021, we will look back on special sporting moments and milestones from each year of the partnership.
Click here to read each moment so far.