Ruby Stevens wins Canada’s first gold medal at 2023 Parapan Am Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 19, 2023

Para swimmer lowers Games record as Canada opens with three medals in the pool

Ruby Stevens

SANTIAGO – Ruby Stevens of Scarborough, Ont. earned Canada’s first gold medal at the 2023 Parapan American Games on Saturday with a Para swimming victory in the women’s S6 100-metre backstroke.

Her triumph highlighted a three-medal day for the Canadian swim team. Fernando Lu of Burnaby, B.C., the youngest athlete on the entire Canadian Parapan Am Team at 16, took silver in the men’s S10 50 freestyle and Tyson MacDonald of Tillsonburg, Ont. added bronze in the men’s S14 200 freestyle.

Stevens, 21, set a Games record 1:30.41 in a decisive win. Her closest opponent Vianney Trejo of Mexico was almost four seconds behind in 1:34.38. Megan Gioffreda of the U.S. was third in 1:34.42.

‘’It doesn’t quite feel real,” said Stevens, who has six more events remaining at her first major Games. ‘’My dream has come true. I’m happy and excited. I want to keep carrying that strength and determination all the way to the very end of the Games.’’

In the last race of the night, Lu showed his promise clocking 25.28 for second spot in the 50 free. Phelipe Melo of Brazil was the winner in 23.93 and Yaseen El-Demerdash of the U.S. third in 25.42. The American just edged Jagdev Gill of Brockville, Ont., fourth in 25.72.

‘’I’ve never swam out of the country before so it’s pretty exciting,’’ said Lu. ‘’I had no idea where I was in the race until I touched the wall.’’

Three Canadians were in the men’s S14 200-metre freestyle with MacDonald earning a bronze.

Gabriel Bandeira of Brazil was the victor in a Games record 1:56.30, Juan Garcia of Colombia followed in 1:57.28 and MacDonald repeated his performance from the 2019 Parapan Ams placing third in 2:01.61.

“That’s a time I haven’t posted in years so it’s pretty special to get on the podium,’’ said MacDonald, 21. ‘’A multi-sport Games is super stressful but luckily having that experience behind my back really helps.’’

Connor Bissett of Edmonton was sixth and Jesse Canney of Fredericton seventh.

Other Canadian results in the pool for the men: Lu was fourth in the SB9 100 breaststroke and Hunter Helberg of Fort McMurray, Alta. was fifth in the S12 100 backstroke.

For the women: Myriam Soliman of St-Hubert, Que. was sixth in the SM7 200 individual medley and Emma Van Dyk of Port Colborne, Ont., also seventh in the S14 200 freestyle.

Para swimming action continues Sunday.

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