Santiago 2023 Day 4 Recap: Four Para athletics medals for Canadian Parapan Am Team

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 22, 2023

Three of Canada’s boccia players advance into gold medal matches

Liam Stanley, Jesse Zesseu, and Michael Barber with their silver medals

SANTIAGO – Canada added four medals – three silver and one bronze – to its total at the Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games on Tuesday, while also securing at least four more to come on an exciting day of action.


SILVER – Michael Barber, Para Athletics, Men’s T20 1500m
SILVER – Liam Stanley, Para Athletics, Men’s T38 1500m
SILVER – Jesse Zesseu, Para Athletes, Men’s F37 Discus
BRONZE – Anthony Bouchard, Para Athletics, Men’s T52 400m


GOLD – 3
TOTAL – 15


Para Athletics
On the first day of Para athletics competition in Santiago, Canada claimed four medals. First up was Michael Barber, who took home silver in the men’s T20 1500m in a time of 4:11.99. At the Lima 2019 Games, at the age of 19, he was sixth in this event. 

“I was really happy with it, I really wanted to come out here and improve what happened four years ago, so I can’t complain,” said Barber. 

Jesse Zesseu claimed silver in the men’s F37 discus with a throw of 52.32m. He finished just behind gold medallist Edwars Varela of Venezuela who reached a distance of 52.68 metres. Canadian teammate David Bambrick was fifth.

“I’ve never been to a multi-sport Games before, so it’s a really cool first experience,” said Zesseu. “To win a silver medal out of it is incredible. Of course the athlete in you, the competitive side of you says I missed it by 30 centimetres, but I’m just glad to be here.”

Liam Stanley matched his Lima 2019 Parapan Am result in the men’s T38 1500m, racing to silver in a time of 4:13.60. Completing the quartet of podiums for Canada on the day was wheelchair racer Anthony Bouchard, third in the men’s T52 400m in 1:03.07

Other results on the day saw Laura Calovini sixth in the women’s F35-36-37 shot put and Natalie Thirsk qualify second in her heat for the women’s T38 400m final, scheduled for Wednesday.

Canada is assured of at least four boccia medals in the individual tournament following the conclusion of semifinal play on Tuesday, with five podiums a possibility. Into the gold medal matches of their respective categories are Alison Levine, Danik Allard, and Lance Cryderman.

Levine scored four points in the first end en route to posting a 7-2 triumph over Mexico’s Karla Manuel in the women’s BC4 semifinals.

“It’s going to be my first individual medal at a Parapan Am Games so I’m super excited,” said Levine, a two-time Paralympian who has a silver and bronze in Parapan Am pairs. “I’m just so happy with the way I’ve played this entire tournament so far. I’ve just got to continue doing that tomorrow and I am very confident I can win the gold.”

Cryderman, in men’s BC1, won 5-2 over Bermuda’s Omar Hayward to reach the gold medal game, buoyed by a score of four points in the second end.

“That game was probably my best game of the tournament,” Cryderman said. “Everything was working today, I felt great through every end.”

“This sport has given me so much that I can’t even put it into words really,” he added. “People ask me all the time what it means, and I can’t really think of more words to convey how important boccia is to me, and I love every second of this competition.”

Allard advanced to the men’s BC2 final with a 7-2 win over El Salvador’s Mario Sayes.

“It’s my first Parapan American Games, so it’s a good surprise for me,” said Allard. “I knew before coming here that I was ready to perform, but to have performances like this is magnificent.”

For both Cryderman and Allard, it will be their first major Games medals. Both have one Paralympic Games to their names (Cryderman in 2000 and Allard in 2020) and are at their first Parapan Am Games. 

Marco Dispaltro, gold medallist four years ago, and Iulian Ciobanu both fell in their semifinals matches in the men’s BC4 tournament, and will now face each other for the bronze. Also playing for bronze will be Kristyn Collins, who lost 5-0 to El Salvador’s Rebeca Duarte in the women’s BC2 semifinals.

Led by eight goals from Emma Reinke, Canada defeated Chile 10-1 in women’s goalball action to finish preliminary play with a 2-1 record, good for second in their group. The squad, who needs a gold medal here in Santiago to qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, will now play in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.  

“This was game was really about fine tuning what we needed before going into the quarterfinals,” said Meghan Mahon. “We’re going to strive to be better than we were today, and make sure we continue our road to punch that ticket to Paris.”

Wheelchair Rugby
Canada closed out the preliminary stage of wheelchair rugby action with a huge 46-41 win over rivals and world No. 1 USA. Zak Madell scored 30 points to lead the way for the Canadians, who took the lead for good in the second quarter before pulling away in the final two minutes.

“’The last quarter was our best quarter of the tournament,” said Madell. “We’re a grinding team so we knew if we toughed it out in that first half and we kept on them, the turnovers would start to come.”

“The U.S. is a great team and if you’re not coming in focused, they’ll roll over you,” said the team’s co-captain Trevor Hirschfield. “We came out, followed our game plan, and we were ready. We saw what’s working, where we had successes, and we got a bunch of different guys on the court. We’re going to take a lot from this game.”

The squad finishes first in group play with a 5-0 record heading into the semifinals against Brazil on Wednesday.  

Wheelchair Basketball
Canada closed out the women’s wheelchair basketball group stage with a 71-25 victory over Colombia to finish a perfect 3-0 atop Group A. The team will now move its attention to the semifinals, set for Thursday.

“It feels really good to get a sweep in our pool,” said Tara Llanes. “I felt like we were playing as a team, we’re swinging the ball, the rookies got in there and got some good minutes. We’re just trying to prep now for what’s ahead and focus on that.”

Para Swimming
Tuesday was the first day without a podium for Canada at the pool. Only four Canadians raced: Hunter Helberg was sixth in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB12, Jordan Tucker sixth in the women’s 50m backstroke, Myriam Soliman sixth in the women’s 100m backstroke S7, and Alisson Gobeil fifth in the women’s 200m individual medley SM5.

Wheelchair Tennis
Rob Shaw, who led Canada into the Opening Ceremony as co-flag bearer, is through to the quad singles semifinals following a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5 victory over Chilean Diego Perez. The second set was a 72-minute back-and-forth affair before Shaw finally captured the straight-sets win.

“It was a slog out there,” he said.

“If you can pull out these ugly wins when you’re feeling bad, it gives you the confidence to know when you’re playing well you can be that much better on the court. The fact I pulled it out playing the way I did; it gives me a lot of hope.”

In other results, Mitch McIntyre lost to Francisco Cayulef of Chile in the quad quarterfinals and Natalia Lanucha fell to Colombia’s Angelica Bernal in the women’s quarterfinals. Shaw is now Canada’s lone entry remaining in singles play.

Shaw and McIntyre also teamed up later in the day for the quad doubles quarterfinals and dropped a close battle to Americans Andrew Bogdanov and David Wagner by a score of 6-3, 3-6, 10-2.  

Shooting Para Sport
In the mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2, Canada’s Doug Blessin finished fourth while Lyne Tremblay was eighth to close out Shooting Para sport action in Santiago. This was the first time Canada had competed in the sport at the Parapan Am Games, which first entered the program four years ago.

“The more Games you can attend, the better it is for the athletes, especially a major Games like this,” said Blessin, a three-time Paralympian in the sport. “Being put under the stress of competition is super helpful in terms of getting used to that type of pressure, and I love it.”

CLICK HERE for the complete results on Tuesday November 21.

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