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Wednesday, November 1, 2000
'I'm really happy to be home'

Nine Ottawa-area Paralympians return from 2000 Sydney Games

By LISA BURKE -- Ottawa Sun

  The smile on Jason Lachance's face last night said more than words ever could.

 Lachance was one of nine Ottawa-area Paralympians who returned home and the 19-year-old had three great reasons to smile.

 The Gloucester native won gold in the men's 200-metre wheelchair -- setting a Paralympic record -- and silver in the 100 and 400 metre.

 Lachance wasn't the only one from Canada to have great success at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.

 Canada finished fifth in the medal standings with a team total of 96 -- 38 gold, 33 silver and 25 bronze.

 After a disappointing performance in Atlanta in 1996, Lachance had wanted nothing more than a strong showing in Australia.

 "I exceeded my expectations in a lot of ways," said an excited Lachance.

 "I really wanted gold in that 400, I didn't hide that, but it was still a great performance."

 In addition to his medals, Lachance returned home with a sponsorship deal.

 A Japanese company will provide Lachance with his racing wheelchairs.

 "I've got a vengeance to compete now," said Lachance.

 "But I'm really happy to be home. I've been thinking about it for the last few days."

 Lachance's mother Donna was in tears as she saw her son come out sporting his three medals.

 "I'm just so proud," she said. "He went to Australia to get on the podium once and he got there three times.

 "That's just unbelievable."

 Lachance was joined last night by Canadian teammates Jacques Bouchard (who received a loving welcome from his wife), Chelsea Lariviere, Joseph Radmore, bronze-medallist Caitlin Renneson, Mirane Lanoix-Boyer, Rob Christy, Kirby Kranabetter, Martin Larocque and Martin Pelletier.

 Renneson said the entire Games experience was one she won't soon forget.

 "It was really amazing," she said.

 "The training was all worth it and to see the Canadian flag was great."

 Lariviere echoed Renneson's feelings.

 "Everyone was just so excited to be there," said Lariviere. "It really was a once-in-a-lifetime chance."
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