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Saturday, October 21, 2000
Medal bonanza for Canadian Paralympic swimmers


 SYDNEY (CSN) -- Elisabeth Walker of Toronto registered a second gold medal in world record time Saturday while Winnipeg teenager Kirby Cote also won with a new world mark to highlight a nine-medal performance for Canadian swimmers at the Paralympic Games.

 After two days of competition, Canada has garnered 13 medals in the pool- five gold, four silver and four bronze.

 In the women's 50-metre butterfly in the S7 category, Walker, a three-time Paralympian, clocked 38.31 seconds to lower her world mark of 39.62 set last year at the national championships in Victoria. Margita Prokeinova of Slovakia was second in 39.43 and Shannon Bothelio of the U.S., third of 41.61.

 The Paralympic swim competition features different finals for different disabilities in each discipline.

 "To be more than a second below the world record is simply unbelievable," said Walker, 23, one of three co-captains on the young 24-member swim team. "This was my pressure event and it's a big relief to get it out the way. The calibre of the athletes at these Games has really shot up compared to four years ago ."

 In the women's 200 individual medley SM13 category , visually impaired swimmer Kirby Cote, 16, of Winnipeg took the gold with a world record 2:29.59. The time eclipsed the previous mark of 2:31.86 set by Marie-Claire Ross of Vancouver at the 1996 Paralympic Games. Chelsey Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., was third in the race in 2:42.50.

 "Six months ago we would have never thought Kirby could get a world record," said Cote's coach and three-time Paralympic swimmer Tom Hainey of Winnipeg. "Her time has come down so much. She's an incredibly hard trainer. And that toughness has brought her to a point that world records are now a realistic goal."

 Canadian silver medallists were Andrea Cole of Thunder Bay, Ont., and Philippe Gagnon of Quebec City in their respective 100 butterfly events and Walter Wu of Richmond, B.C., in the 200 IM.

 Also winning bronze were Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver and Tyler Emmett of Windsor, Ont., in their respective 200 IM's and Andrew Haley of Dartmouth, N.S., in the 100 butterfly. Competition continues Sunday.
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