Para cyclists, para swimmers and boccia players led the Canadian medal charge on Saturday on day one of competition at the Parapan American Games.
Canada stands fourth in the medal standings but has the third most medals overall after day one of competition with 16 (three gold, six silver and seven bronze). Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. are 1-2-3.
It was a six medal day for the riders.
Mark Ledo of Maple, Ont., led a Canadian double medal performance in the men’s H3-5 road race with gold in one hour and 22 minutes and 17 seconds. In a photo finish for the silver, William Lachenauer of the U.S. edged out Charles Moreau Victoriaville, Que., as both were timed in 1:22.36.
“My race was great today,” said Ledo. “For it to be the first gold medal of the Games makes it extra special.”
In the mixed road race tandem, Daniel Chalifour of Mont-Laurier, Que., and his guide Alexandre Cloutier of St-Antoine-de-Tilly, Que., overcame a mechanical issue to win the silver medal in a photo finish. Nelson Serna and Sebastian Durango of Colombia were declared the winners and both pairs clocked 2:07.40.
“We’re satisfied and frustrated at the same time,” said Cloutier. “It was unfortunate to have the mechanical breakdown but to come back so strong to get second was good. There are three more races ahead to try and get the gold.”
Robbi Weldon of Thunder Bay, Ont., and her pilot Audrey Lemieux of Montreal were fifth just 0.04 seconds from the podium and Shawna Ryan of Saskatoon and Joanie Caron of Rimouski, Que., sixth.
In the mixed road race in the H1-2M/H1-5W, Robert Labbe of Quebec City won the bronze medal behind two American riders.
“I’m very satisfied with my race,” said Labbe. ”It was great day and I felt fit. The first lap was very tough but I relied on my technique on the second lap and that’s how I moved into a medal position.”
Another bronze was earned by Louis-Albert Corriveau-Jolin of Ste-Claire, Que., in the mixed T1 road race. Marie-Eve Croteau of Quebec City was fifth and world women’s champion Shelley Gautier of Toronto sixth.
“I’m happy and proud to the first Canadian medallist at the Games,” said Corriveau-Jolin. “It increases my chances to go to the Paralympic Games next year.”
Nicole Clermont of St-Denis-de-Brompton, Que., won bronze in the women’s C1-5 with Marie-Claude Molnar of Montreal fifth.
“An incredible feeling,” said Clermont. “To fight for the gold medal right until the end of the race is very satisfying for me. My goal was to get on the podium and I’m very proud.”
In the men’s C1-3 race, Mike Sametz of Calgary was fifth and Ross Wilson of Sherwood Park, Alta., did not finish.
Eric Bussiere and Bruno Garneau, both of Montreal and Paul Gauthier of Vancouver highlighted a three-medal day for Canada in boccia with gold in the BC3 category.
Canada’s flag bearer Marco Dispaltro of St-Jerome, Que., Alison Levine of Montreal and Caroline Vietnieks of Burnaby, B.C., took silver in BC 4 while Adam Dukovich of Ottawa, Tammy McLeod of London, Ont., Chris Halpen of Victoria and Hanif Mawji of Vancouver garnered a bronze medal in the BC1/BC2 division.
“I’m excited to be here,” said Gauthier. ”It’s awesome to once again hear the national anthem on home turf. We had a great day, strong teamwork, cooperation and good decision making on the court.”
The BC4s fell short for gold medal with an overtime loss to Brazil in their third and final match.
”A strong day, two wins in our initial two matches but a disappointing loss to Brazil in our third game,” said Dispaltro. ”It’s too bad the BC4s won’t have the chance to hear our national anthem on the podium but I look forward to giving my all tomorrow.”
Led by a one-two finish in men’s S12-13 200-meter individual medley Canadians gobbled up seven medals (one gold, four silver, two bronze) on the opening night of swimming. The team’s goal is between 80 and 85 medals.
Nicolas Turbide, of Quebec City collected Canada’s first gold of the meet, winning the 200-IM for the visually impaired in two minutes, 19.99 seconds. Devin Gotell, of Montreal, was second in 2:26.62.
Also with silver were Maxime Rousselle of St-Alexandre, Que., Camille Berube of Gatineau, Que., and Kirstie Kasko of Okotoks, Alta. Gordie Michie of St. Thomas, Ont., and Tammy Cunnington of Red Deer, Alta., each added a bronze.
“I got what I wanted,” said Turbide. “It feels awesome.”
A loud, flag-waving crowd had him riding a wave of energy.
“The crowd is a huge a part of this,” he said. “I don’t know if I would have had the same adrenaline push for the race.”
A fired-up Canadian Parapan Am women’s wheelchair basketball team lit up the scoreboard at the Ryerson Athletic Centre with a 78-18 victory over Guatemala in their first game. In the process the Canadians set team highs for most points scored in a game and largest margin of victory at the Parapan Ams since 2007.
Katie Harnock, of Elmira, Ont. sparked the Canadian offence scoring the game’s first four baskets in the opening minutes on route to an 11 point, 5 rebound performance. Meanwhile, it was rookie sensation Arinn Young, of Legal, Alta. who led all players with a game-high 18 points, and team-leading 8 rebounds in just 14:21 of court time.
“Embracing the challenge that comes along with playing in the first game of a big tournament was the key to our success today,” said Young. “My heart was racing. I was so nervous before the game so to get this first one out of the way feels really good. To get all the jitters out and come away with the win is the exactly the start we wanted.”
On the men’s side, Canada hammered Venezuela 102-27. Adam Lancia of Scarborough led Canada with 35 points while Nikola Goncin of Regina added 18 and David Eng of Montreal, 14.
Canada’s wheelchair rugby team beat Brazil 65-32 to claim its first win of the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games. A nearly sold-out crowd of fans cheered and waved flags as the sport made its official Parapan Am debut on home soil.
“The atmosphere was electric,” said Team Canada head coach Kevin Orr. “We couldn’t have asked for a better homecoming.”
Zak Madell scored 23 of the team’s 65 points and provided crucial speed and defensive firepower. Peterborough’s Cody Caldwell led the team in minutes played and provided a solid defensive effort. On the Brazilian side, Alexandre Giuriato was the top goal scorer with 10 goals.
Story and photo from the Canadian Paralympic Committee | Paralympic.ca