Canada won the gold medal in wheelchair rugby on Friday defeating its arch-rival the United States 57-54 to cap a 26-medal performance at the Parapan American Games.
Canada will finish second in the overall medal standings with just a handful of medals up for grabs on Saturday morning. Brazil leads with 255 medals, Canada follows at 50 gold, 62 silver and 54 bronze for 166. The U.S. is third at 133.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee set a top-three finish in overall medals as the team’s objective.
In a game that couldn’t have been scripted better by Hollywood, Canada’s wheelchair rugby team came from behind to win gold tonight at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. The team has now qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“This feeling is incredible,” said Zak Madell. “This is worth everything. Winning gold right here on home soil means more than all of the Paralympics and World Championships combined. We couldn’t have done it without the fans or without the amazing volunteers.”
When the two teams met in the round robin, Canada lost in double overtime. The fans in the sold-out stadium, however, were determined to propel their team to a victory.
Unfortunately, Canada opened on a flat note and was quickly down 4-1. Though they soon settled into their rhythm, they were unable to force turnovers from the dominant American team and remained down 30-26 at halftime. In the third quarter, however, the energy from the crowd and a few quick turnovers helped Canada rally. By the third quarter, the score was tied. In the fourth quarter, Canada’s confidence was high. They finished the game up 57-54.
This is Canada’s first major gold medal since 2002 when Canada beat the USA at the 2002 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. That victory was captured in the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Murderball.” With the cameras rolling again, Team Canada played big when it counted.
“Today, we learned how it feels to win gold,” said Kevin Orr. “That’s a feeling that we’re going to carry with us to Rio.”
WOMEN’S WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL
The Canadian Parapan Am Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team captured silver at the Toronto 2015 Games and earned a berth into the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The Canadian women complete the tournament with a 4-1 record. Their only loss came in a hard-fought battle against the USA in the final 80-72.
Offensive juggernaut Janet McLachlan, of Vancouver, B.C., led Canada with 27 points including three 3-pointers, the last of which brought Canada within three points with just mere seconds left on the clock. McLachlan also led her team with 10 rebounds. Fellow Canadian Cindy Ouellet had another standout effort with 18 points and seven assists.
“We played hard, and they played hard, and a few more of their buckets went in. That happens in basketball. That happens in every sport. And that’s okay. Yes we would have preferred to come away with the win, but it was a good game,” said McLachlan.
MEN’S WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL
In the men’s semifinal, David Eng of Montreal scored 28 points to lead Canada over Brazil 70-54 and a date in the final against the U.S. on Saturday morning. The victory also puts the men’s team on the road to Rio.
The gold medal between Canada and the USA game will be seen live on CBC TV across the country Saturday August 15, starting at 11am ET.
“I’m feeling amazing right now. It’s amazing to get the opportunity now to go to the Paralympics, it’ll be my first one and just to play on this stage and then an even bigger stage in Rio. We’re going to be preparing very hard so we’ll be ready to go,” said 17-year-old Liam Hickey, of St. John’s N.L., the youngest player on team Canada.
“I knew this was really important for us. It was our way to go to Rio and we needed this game to be able to qualify. So I really had to calm myself and stay in the moment every single possession,” said Eng. “I’ve got awesome, great teammates that were able to feed me the ball and pass the ball and attract the defense to create space for me to be able to go inside the paint.
Canada won the bronze medal in men’s and women’s sitting volleyball on Friday at the Parapan American Games. In addition, the Canadian women put their name in the hat for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
“We had Rio in our sights,” said Felicia Shafiq of Burnaby after the Canadian women trounced Cuba 25-8, 25-7, 25-7. “We were determined to beat Cuba and I’m going to show off this bronze medal to everybody.”
Shafiq was Canada’s top scorer with 17 points, Shacarra Orr of Jaffray, B.C., added 13 and Heidi Peters of Edmonton 12.
“The emotions right now are hard to describe,” said Orr. “There was a point in my life I thought I was never going to play again and here I am going to Rio with the team I love and the sport I love.”
In the men’s bronze medal match, Canada defeated Colombia 28-26, 25-17, 25-18 to the delight of a large pro- Canadian crowd at the Parapan Am Field House in Scarborough. Doug Learoyd led the Canadian attack with 13 points. Jose Rebelo of Montreal and Jamoi Anderson of Toronto added nine apiece.
“We’ve put forth a hell of an effort in this tournament,” said Anderson. “We played hard and we are glad we are going home with some hardware. The crowd was awesome. When were down a couple of points they would pick us back up.”
In athletics, Brent Lakatos of Dorval, Que., and Alexandre Dupont of Clarenceville, Que., both won a third gold medal at the Parapan American Games.
In the men’s T54 400-m wheelchair race, Lakatos clocked a Games record 48.91 seconds to finish ahead of Fernandes Da Silva second in 51.03 and Jesus Aguilar of Venezuela in third. Jean-Philippe Maranda of Montreal was fourth and Wes Vick of Victoria sixth.
“It’s easy when you’re in front of a crowd like this, with everyone cheering for you, it just gives you that motivation,” said Lakatos. ”I’m proud to be able to do that at home in Toronto.”
It was a 1-2 Canadian finish in the T54 1500m wheelchair race with Dupont clocking 3:07.61 and Josh Cassidy of Port Elgin, Ont., second in 3:07.98. Cassidy ends the Games with three silver.
“I came with confidence,” said Dupont. ”If you come here expecting to finishing second or third that’s what you will do. So every time I go somewhere I go there thinking, I will win.”
Also winning silver were Ness Murby of Salt Spring Island, B.C., in the F11/12 javelin, Jason Dunkerley of Ottawa and his guide Josh Karanja in the T111500 and Leah Robinson of Kitchener, Ont., in the T38 400-m.
Bronze medals were added by Pam LeJean of Halifax in the F53/54 javelin and Jessica Frotten of Whitehorse in the T53 400-m.
Whitney Bogart of Ottawa scored a team-leading eight goals to help Canada win the bronze medal and a qualifying spot at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio today at the Mississauga Sports Centre. Ashlie Andrews of Penticton, B.C. added two and Nancy Morin of Longueuil, Que scored one on the way to their 11-1 win over Guatemala.
“This feels pretty darn fantastic,” said Tiana Knight of Calgary, Alta. “We all put in a lot of effort together as a team and this just feels amazing. We played really well and we just need to do even better for Rio.”
The team lost an exceptionally close 7-6 match against the USA in their first semi-final earlier in the day.
The men played a tight defensive match that went in to sudden death overtime against the USA in their semi-final match. The match ended after American John Kusku slipped on the floor causing a distraction that was enough to foil the Canadian team’s defense to end the match 3-2 in favour of the USA.
The men will now face Argentina at 10am tomorrow in the bronze medal match. Canada needs to win to earn a spot for the 2016 Paralympics. The US will face Brazil for the gold.
Aurelie Rivard swam a world record breaking time in the S10 100-meter freestyle to win a record sixth gold medal Friday night as Canada’s Para-swimming team wrapped up its most successful Parapan American Games ever.
“It don’t know where that came from,” said a shocked Rivard after seeing her time of 59.17 seconds.
Setting a world record was something Rivard imagined at next year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janerio, not in her seventh swim in six days at the Parapan Am Games.
“That was one of my long-term goals … but not at Parapans and especially on the last day,” said the 19-year-old from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., who was born missing her left hand.
The six individual gold medals are the most by any Canadian woman in individual events at a single Parapan Am Games. Canadian swimmers won 12 medals on the day (four gold, five silver, three bronze) and finished the Games with 91 (24-39-28). It was Canada’s biggest swimming medal haul at a Parapan Am Games.
Gold: Rivard; Nicolas Turbide, Quebec City, S11-13 100-m butterfly; Justine Morrier, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., S14 200-m IM; Tess Routliffe, Caledon, Ont., S7 100-m backstroke.
Silver: Kirstie Kasko, Okotoks, Alta., S14 200-m IM; men’s 4X100-m medley relay (Benoit Huot, Longueuil, Que.; James Leroux, Repentigny, Que.; Jean-Michel Lavallliere, Quebec City; Zack McAllister, Lethbridge, Alta.); Sarah Mehain, Vernon, Alta., S7 100-m backstroke; Adam Purdy, London, Ont., S6 100-m backstroke; Tammy Cunnington, Red Deer, Alta., S1-4 200-m freestyle; Gordie Michie, St. Thomas, Ont., S14 200-m IM.
Bronze: Katarina Roxon, Kippens, N.L., S9 100-m freestyle; Nathan Stein, Surrey, B.C., S10 100-m freestyle; Adam Rahier, Port Moody, B.C., S14 200-m IM.
Story from the Canadian Paralympic Committee | Paralympic.ca