Canadians sweep podium in Paralympic pool Star

September 7, 2008


BEIJING – Valerie Grand’Maison got Canada off to a flying start at the Paralympics, leading a podium sweep in the 100-metre butterfly for the visually impaired on the opening day of competition.

Cyclist Jean Quevillon captured Canada’s first medal of the Games earlier in the day, a bronze in the men’s individual pursuit for cerebral palsy athletes.

Grand’Maison, from Longueuil, Que., Kirby Cote of Winnipeg and Chelsea Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., finished 1-2-3 in the butterfly. The 19-year-old Grand’Maison clocked a Canadian record one minute 6.49 seconds in her Games debut, less than a second off the 12-year-old world record.

“I’m so happy, I’m speechless right now,” said Grand’Maison, who won five gold medals at the 2006 world championships. “It’s a dream come true. Every single morning I have thought about winning Paralympic gold and it has now finally happened.   “And it was extra special to share the podium with my teammates. It’s a proud moment for us.”

Canada was eighth in the medal standings after Day 1 with four medals. The U.S. led with nine – four gold, two silver and three bronze.  Sixteen gold medals in swimming were up for grabs on Sunday, with 11 others awarded in shooting, judo and cycling.  Cote, who lowered the national mark to 1:07.21 in the preliminaries, followed in 1:06.62 and Gotell was third in 1:06.93.  “Despite the world getting faster, Canada is right up there,” said Cote, who won five gold medals at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. “This shows we can keep up.”

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