Friday, August 24, 2007

Canadian visually impaired swimmer breaks world record!

Valerie Grand'Maison of Montreal broke the world record in the women's 400-metre freestyle for the visually impaired to highlight a 15-medal performance for Canadian swimmers Wednesday at the Para Pan American Games.

Canadian swimmers have claimed 22 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze after three days of competition. On Wednesday, Canada earned eight gold, five silver and two bronze.

Also Wednesday, wheelchair racer Jessica Matassa of Windsor, Ont., won two gold medals, while Kris Vriend of Edmonton and Kyle Pettey of Kingston, Ont., claimed shot put gold medals.

Grand'Maison won in a record time of four minutes and 36.51 seconds to eclipse the previous mark of 4:37.62 which had stood since 1992. Chelsey Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., won the silver in 4:57.47.

"I added the 400 freestyle this year which was a bit of a risk," said Grand'Maison, who won her third gold of the competition. "Swimming the longer distances is actually more natural for me than a 50 or 100-metre sprint. But it is hard to train both short and longer distance swims. They are very different races.

"Tonight I took it out harder than I would my 200 freestyle race and played it by ear. I felt less pressure and had fun."

In the women's 100 breaststroke for visually impaired, Kirby Cote of Winnipeg was the winner in 1:20.39 with Grand'Maison second in 1:24.77 and Jacqueline Rennebohm of Regina fourth in 1:35.80.

Canada swept the medals in the women's S9 disability category 100 freestyle with Darda Geiger of London, Ont., winning in 1:06.37, Stephanie Dixon of Victoria second in 1:06.46 and Brittany Gray of Barrie, Ont., third in 1:11.69.

Anne Polinario of Montreal led a double Canadian medal performance in the S10 freestyle with the win in 1:03.83. Jessica Hodgins of Tecumseh, Ont., was third in 1:09.24.

Andrea Cole of London, Ont., took the women's S8 200 IM in 3:12.13 while Laura Jensen of Fort St. John, B.C., was fourth missing a berth on the podium by 0.11 seconds.

Other winners were Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver in the 100 butterfly for visually impaired, Drew Christensen of New Westminster, B.C., in the S8 200 IM and the women's 4x100 medley relay with Dixon, Katarina Roxon of Stephenville, N.L., Gray and Cole.

Devin Gotell of Antigonish won silver in the 400 freestyle for visually impaired. Benoit Huot of Montreal was second in the S10 100 freestyle in 53.60. Andre Esteves of Brazil won the race in a world record 52.35.
Brad Sales of London, Ont., and Andrew Haley of Toronto were fifth and ninth in the S9 100 freestyle.

In the women's 200-metre wheelchair race for paraplegics, Matassa won the gold medal in 31.24 seconds with Gloria Sanchez Alcantar of Mexico second in 31.77 and Yazmith Bataz Carballo of Mexico third in 32.43.

In the women's 800 wheelchair race, Matassa prevailed again in 1:56.72 with Ariadne Hernandez Rodriguez of Mexico second in 2:03.31 and Evelyn Enciso Cervantes of Mexico third in 2:11.78.
"They were both satisfying wins," said Matassa. "In the 200 I had been stalled at 31.9 for awhile so I wanted to break out of that. And for the 800, that was fastest time without drafting on another racer. I don't think I've ever gone under 1:59 on my own."

In the men's shot put for athletes with CP, Pettey won the gold with a 9.87 metre toss on his third of six attempts which broke his previous Canadian record of 9.23. Robert Hughes of Mississauga, Ont., was second and Carlos Leon of the U.S., third.

"The win feels amazing," said Pettey. "It's the first time I've been on the top of the podium at a major Games and heard the anthem played for me. It's a big confidence boost for the Paralympics next year but I still have a lot of work to do."

In the women's shot put for cerebral palsy athletes, Vriend was the winner with a 7.73 metre toss achieved on her fifth of six throws. Shirlene Coelho of Brazil was second and Perla Munoz of Argentina third.

"That was my best throw at an international competition in three years," said Vriend. "In that way, it was good. But it wasn't near my personal best. I was confident that I could win the competition, and my throws just got better and better in each round."

In the women's 100 dash for amputees, Stefanie Reid of Kingston, Ont., was fourth and Andrea Holmes of Vancouver fifth. The final was a combined disability class and Reid and Holmes ranked second and third in their class.

Barry Phelan of Wingham, Ont., qualified for the 100 final for CP athletes ranking second overall in the semis with a time of 12.71.


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