Santiago 2023 Day 1 Recap: Canada claims four medals to open Parapan Am Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 19, 2023

Stephanie Chan wins nation’s first medal; Ruby Stevens captures first gold

Ruby Stevens with her medal

SANTIAGO – The Canadian national anthem was played at the Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games for the first time on Saturday, as Para swimmer Ruby Stevens collected Canada’s first gold medal on day one. Para table tennis veteran Stephanie Chan earlier won the country’s opening medal of the Games, a bronze, while Fernando Lu and Tyson MacDonald added two more podiums.  

At age 66, Chan is the oldest member of the Canadian Parapan Am Team, while Lu is the youngest at age 16. Both are now Santiago 2023 medallists, on the same day.


GOLD – Ruby Stevens, Para Swimming, Women’s S6 100m Backstroke
SILVER – Fernando Lu, Para Swimming, Men’s 50m S10 Freestyle
BRONZE – Stephanie Chan, Para Table Tennis, Women’s Singles Classes 6-7
BRONZE – Tyson MacDonald, Para Swimming, Men’s S14 200m Freestyle


GOLD – 1


Para Table Tennis
Stephanie Chan claimed Canada’s first medal of the Games, her sixth career Parapan Am podium and second consecutive bronze. The 66-year-old fell in three straight sets to Argentine Giselle Munoz in the semifinals. With no third-place match, Chan was awarded one of two bronze medals in the draw.

‘’I’m so excited to get another medal,” said Chan, who is set for heart surgery after the Games. “After surgery I’ll come again to practice table tennis and have the chance to go to the Parapan Am Games again.”

In other action, Peter Isherwood wrapped up his singles campaign with a 3-0 loss to Brazilian Guilherme Marciao in men’s Class 2 play.

Para Swimming
Canada’s Para swimmers secured a medal in each colour to open action in the pool, led by Ruby Stevens. In her Games debut, Stevens swam to gold in the women’s S6 100m backstroke in a Parapan Am record of 1:30.41. She finished nearly four seconds ahead of her nearest challenger.

“It doesn’t quite feel real,” Stevens said. “It feels like a dream come true, I don’t even have any words to express how happy and excited I am at the moment.”

Also making his debut with a podium performance was 16-year-old Fernando Lu with silver in the men’s 50m S10 freestyle, in a time of 25.28. It was the 16-year-old’s second race of the day as he also was fourth in the men’s SB9 100m breaststroke. In the freestyle, Jagdev Gill just missed joining his teammate on the podium, finishing fourth.

“It’s pretty exciting. I’ve never really gone out of the country much before, so it’s pretty good to win a medal,” Lu said. “I was just trying to get to the finish line as fast as I could, and I had no idea until I touched the wall I had the silver.”

Tyson MacDonald added a bronze with a time of 2:01.61 in the men’s S14 200m freestyle, his fourth Parapan Am podium following a gold, silver, and bronze at the Lima Games four years ago. In the same race, fellow Canadians Connor Bissett and Jesse Canney were sixth and seventh, respectively.

“It feels so good to win the bronze,” MacDonald said. “Going a time I haven’t gone in years in that event, it’s super special, and I’m very excited to stand on the podium.”

“The biggest thing for me was to come in and have fun. A multi-sport Games is super stressful, but luckily being a veteran and having that experience behind my back, I can pass that on and feed off that myself.”

In other results, Hunter Helberg was fifth in the men’s S12 100m backstroke, Myriam Soliman sixth in the women’s SM7 200m individual medley, and Emma Van Dyck seventh in the women’s S14 200m freestyle.

Wheelchair Rugby
Canada clinched a resounding 63-30 win over Argentina to open its tournament. Veteran superstar Zak Madell led the way in scoring with 17 tries, followed by first-time Parapan Am participants Matt Debly with 13 and Rio Kanda Kovac with 11. Canada will play four more preliminary matches with the top four finishers moving into the semifinals.

“We were just completely one unit; we knew where everybody was,” said Debly. “We were working together, communicating, and it was very positive. It’s easy to play well when everybody’s got your back.”

“The crowd was into it, we got the blood flowing, and we played well so it’s going to give us a lot of momentum going forward,” he added.

Both Canadian teams dropped opening matches to the United States on Saturday – the men falling 9-2 and the women posting a 5-3 defeat.

Down 1-0 at the half, the women scored three goals in under two minutes to open the second before ultimately falling 5-3 to their American rivals.

“It was a really strong defensive performance on our part,” said Amy Burk. “We got caught on penalties, but we only let in one even-strength goal and against the Americans, that’s amazing. We expected that game to be extremely tough, they always bring an amazing game against us. We wanted to show up and we wanted them to know that we are here and were going to make a statement.”

“We do have some things to work on, but tomorrow is a day off and then we’re going to continue rolling forward.”

Wheelchair Basketball
The Canadian women opened with a 61-44 victory over Brazil, led by Kady Dandeneau’s 25 points and 17 rebounds. Cindy Ouellet and Arinn Young each added 10 points.

“It was really nice to get that win,” said Dandeneau. “Brazil is super competitive and super aggressive, which I love, that’s what you want to see. They’ve improved so much. It was not an easy game; it was a good win for us.”

On the men’s side, Canada played a primetime game against host Chile and dominated, posting a final score of 80-17. Four players hit double-digit scoring – Bo Hedges (14 points), Pat Anderson (13), Reed Da’Aeth (11), and Nik Goncin (10).

CP Football
Canada’s CP Football team lost a heartbreaker 2-1 to Venezuela to start its tournament. Up 1-0 thanks to a goal from star player Samuel Charron, the squad looked to be heading to a win before two late goals from Venezuela in stoppage time shut the door in dramatic fashion. Canada will now look to regroup before taking the pitch again on Sunday.

CLICK HERE for the complete results on Saturday November 18.


Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields