Young veterans give Canada powerful Para swimming presence in Tokyo

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 14, 2021

New stars also on the horizon in the pool


A balanced mix of veterans and youth led by Aurélie Rivard, Katerina Roxon and Nicolas-Guy Turbide give Canada a powerful presence in Para swimming at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. But keep an eye on some young talent ready to trumpet Canada as a force for many more years to come.

Twenty-five-year-old Rivard took three individual gold in Rio, Roxon also won gold in the SB8 100-m breaststroke while Turbide added a bronze in the S13 100-m backstroke. In all there are 11 returnees out of the 19 team members from Rio 2016.

Rivard, born missing part of her left hand, is defending Games champion in the 50-m freestyle, 100-m freestyle and the 400-m freestyle. The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. native now based in Quebec City, is also the reigning world champion in the 50-m and 100-m free.

‘’I’m focusing on what I can control,’’ Rivard told the Journal de Montréal. “I want to be in the best state of mind as possible. There are a lot of intangibles at a Games. There’ll be no spectators and I thrive on adrenaline.”

In the 50-m free, Chantalle Zijderveld from the Netherlands will try to take away Rivard’s crown. There’s also Italy’s Alessia Scortechini, reigning European champion and the silver medallist from the Mexico City 2017 Worlds.

In the 100-m free, the Dutch can throw two major opponents at Rivard with Zijderveld and Lisa Kruger while 18-year-old Zara Mullooly of Great Britain is a major threat in the 400 free.

Roxon, born with her left arm missing below her elbow, took gold in the SB8 100-m breaststroke in Rio and the Kippens, N.L. resident faces many contenders once again for the title in Tokyo. Europe is well-represented in the event with Ireland’s European champion and 2016 bronze medallist Ellen Keane who set the fastest time of the year.

Also watch for Spain’s Nuria Marques and New Zealand’s Paralympic legend Sophie Pascoe who enters with the third-fastest time of the year.

“It’s a lot of different emotions going into it throughout this pandemic period,” Roxon, 28, told CBC. “It’s not something that I can really compare to any other Games, as it’s a completely new experience for me.’’ 

For his part, Turbide, who is visually impaired, took bronze in the S13 100-m backstroke in Rio and improved to silver at the 2019 world championships. In his way for gold in the event is the mighty Ihar Boki of Ukraine who has accumulated 11 gold medals over the past two Games.

Other returnees from Rio for Canada are Morgan Bird, Camille Bérubé, Tammy Cunnington, Danielle Dorris, Sabrina Duchesne, Alec Elliot, James Leroux and Abi Tripp. Leroux, Elliot and Tripp were all medallists at the last world championships in 2019 where Canada made 14 trips to the podium.

Making their Paralympic Games debuts are 2019 world championship medallists Shelby Newkirk and Aly Van Wyck Smart as well as Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games medallists Nicholas Bennett and Angela Marina along with Zach Zona, Matthew Cabraja, Nikita Ens and Danielle Kisser.

The swimming events run August 25 to September 3 in Tokyo. 

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