TOKYO – Wednesday was Canada’s most successful day of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games yet, with two record-breaking gold medals and a silver to bring the nation’s overall podium total to 16 through eight days of competition. Paralympic superstars Aurélie Rivard (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) and Brent Lakatos (Dorval, QC) added more hardware to their ever-expanding collections while first-time Paralympian Greg Stewart (Kamloops, BC) added his first medal. Canada also advanced into the semifinals in women’s sitting volleyball, which guarantees the team a best-ever Paralympic finish.
MEDALS WON ON SEPTEMBER 1
GOLD – Greg Stewart, Para Athletics, Men’s F46 Shot Put
GOLD – Aurélie Rivard, Para Swimming, Women’s 400m freestyle S10
SILVER – Brent Lakatos, Para Athletics, Men’s T53 100m
OVERALL MEDAL TOTAL
Canada took home two medals in Para athletics on a superb day on both the track and field.
First up, Greg Stewart set a new Paralympic record in the men’s F46 shot put en route to winning Canada’s second gold medal of Tokyo 2020, his first Paralympic podium. A silver medallist in this event at the 2019 world championships, he bested the reigning world champion and world record holder Joshua Cinnamo of USA, who won bronze, and London 2012 champion Nikita Prokhorov of RPC who took silver.
“I can’t even describe it yet. I don’t have words yet. It’s been a very cool experience. I think it will really hit me when I talk to my family – my girlfriend, my parents – and get back to the village and spend some time with the rest of the team,” said Stewart. “I went in thinking – just have fun. Ultimately, that’s what matters. The rest just took care of itself.”
Throwing a whopping distance of 16.75 metres on his first attempt, it set a high bar that no other athlete was able to challenge through six rounds. Stewart was following advice from his coach, Dylan Armstrong, a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist in shot put.
“I didn’t even know how far I threw on the first one. I just let it happen. Dylan always says to throw your furthest and your hardest on your very first one and let the other people deal with that.”
Wheelchair racing standout Brent Lakatos – in his fifth Paralympic Games – has hit double-digits in medals with his 10th Paralympic podium. In the men’s T53 100m, he raced to the finish in 14.55 seconds, but was stopped from defending his Rio 2016 title by Pongsakorn Paeyo of Thailand, who burst through the last 50m to set a new Paralympic record of 14.20. Lakatos previously held the record heading into the day. The Canadian has now won three silver medals in Tokyo.
“My time was fine. It is what I would expect right now. With my focus on the longer distances, I haven’t been able to focus on the 100 metres as much as I have in years past. It’s nothing stellar, but I’m satisfied with the time,” said Lakatos. “The world has gotten a lot faster and that time doesn’t win gold anymore.”
Charlotte Bolton (Tillsonburg, ON), the youngest member of Canada’s Para athletics team at 18, finished sixth in the women’s F41 discus, matching her result in the shot put earlier in the Games. She set a new North American record in the process with a throw of 27.72 metres.
Swimming superstar Aurélie Rivard smashed her own world record to take gold in the women’s 400m freestyle S10 final. With a time of 4:24.08 – more than five seconds faster than the mark she set in Cairns in 2018 – Rivard captured her second gold medal of these Games and fourth overall (two gold, two bronze). Her career total is nine Paralympic podium performances.
“My race went great. I really wanted to focus on the technical aspects, like I did in the 100 free,” said Rivard. “When I noticed I was ahead of the other girls, I just focused on the black line at the bottom of the pool and on finishing the race as fast as I could and see if I could lower the world record. I’m really happy to have lowered it and to have won the gold medal.”
Two other swimmers raced in finals – Alec Elliot (Kitchener, ON) was fifth in the men’s 400m freestyle S10 and Morgan Bird (Calgary, AB) sixth in the women’s 50m freestyle S8.
In their morning heats, Abi Tripp (Kingston, ON) and Katarina Roxon (Kippens, NL) did not advance.
Canada will officially finish Tokyo 2020 with its best ever result in sitting volleyball. With a huge 3-0 triumph over Japan on Wednesday, the Canadian women’s squad finish preliminary play with a 2-1 record, good for second in Group A which secures them a spot in the semifinals and a chance at a medal. Canada finished seventh at Rio 2016, which was the first Paralympic Games the country qualified to participate in the sport of sitting volleyball. They’ll face China in the semifinals on Friday.
“Getting to the semifinals of the Paralympics started as a dream back in Rio 2016 after our seventh-place finish,” said team captain Danielle Ellis (White Rock, BC). “And after five years of hard work and dedication, from every member of this team, we made it. I believe in each woman here and I know how much they have put into competing at the Paralympics and I am so proud to sit next to them on the court. We’re here and we’re ready to push to be the best version of ourselves. One game at a time!”
A determined Canadian squad challenged reigning world champion Great Britain in the men’s wheelchair basketball quarterfinals but came up short 66-52. There wasn’t much to separate the two teams in the first half, before Canada opened up a 10-point lead in the third quarter for the first significant run of the game. But Great Britain was able to reel the Canadians back in before cracking it open in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Canadians 24-9 in the final 10 minutes of play.
Patrick Anderson (Fergus, ON) was Canada’s top player of the day, with 22 points and 17 rebounds. The Brits, the defending Paralympic bronze medallists, now move into the semifinals while Canada heads to a seventh-place classification game against Germany on Friday.
“It is not easy to close out a game against Great Britain. We had it. But I’m proud of the guys, proud of the improvements, proud of how we have been playing,” said head coach Matteo Feriani. “I’m proud because we fought. We fought until the end. We were there. We fought until the end. We made it very hard for them.”
Joey Desjardins (Hawkesbury, ON) finished eighth in the men’s H3 road race for Canada’s top finish of the day in Para cycling. In the same race, Rio 2016 bronze medallist Charles Moreau (Victoriaville, QC) was 10th while Alex Hyndman (Morpeth, ON) ended in 11th.
Shooting Para Sport
Doug Blessin (Port Coquitlam, BC) and Lyne Tremblay (Magog, QC) returned to the range for their second Shooting Para sport competition of the Games. In a deep field in the mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2, Blessin posted a 33rd-place finish while Tremblay was 36th.
CLICK HERE for the complete Canadian Paralympic Team results on September 1.