August 24, 1996

Gold in pool and on track for Canada

 ATLANTA (CP) -- Canada's wheelchair athletes continued to shine at the Parlympic Games on Saturday.
 Jeff Adams of Toronto completed a spectacular comeback for Canada's 4x400-metre wheelchair relay squad for a hard-earned bronze, and Chantal Petitclerc of Montreal and Dean Bergeron of Quebec City won their fifth medals.
 Canada now has 63 medals -- 22 gold, 20 silver and 21 bronze -- and is battling Germany and England for fifth, sixth and seventh spots overall.
 Swimmer Walter Wu of Richmond, B.C., earned his fifth gold medal, winning the 100 backstroke and breaking his world record.
 But Canada's 4x100 wheelchair race relay squad lost a gold medal, disqualified 45 minutes after the race for an illegal exchange.
 In the 4x100 relay, the Canadian squad of Nick Cunningham of Winnipeg, Colin Mathieson of Winnipeg, Marc Quessy of Sherbrooke, Que., and Adams easily cruised to an apparent win. But TV replays showed the exchange between Mathieson and Quessy was made outside the legal zone.
 Two other countries were also disqualified -- one during the race and another afterwards -- and Germany ended up the gold.
 In the 4x400 relay, France set a world record by clocking three minutes 14.45 seconds to beat the previous mark of 3:18.75 established by the U.S. at the 1992 Games. Switzerland was second at 3:16.46 and Canada, with Mathieson, Quessy, Adams and Carl Marquis of Sherbrooke, Que., recovered from two flat tires for third at 3:21.63.
 About a minute before the start, Canadian team mechanics had to fix a flat tire on lead-off Mathieson's wheelchair. Then Quessy suffered a flat tire on the first exchange (wheelchair racers tag) but finished his leg of the race and tagged off on Marquis. When Adams was tagged he was 50 metres behind the Germans, but caught them with 40 metres remaining.
 "I thought we were dead when I saw Marc's flat," said Adams, 25, who won gold in the 800 and silver in the 400 earlier this week. "But Marc just ... worked so hard to keep us in there, working with a flat."
 In the men's 1,500 wheelchair event for quadriplegics, Per Vesterlund of Sweden won the gold in 4:00.86 to break the world record of 4:02.06 set by Clayton Gerein of Regina in 1993. Bergeron was second in 4:01.82 and Gerein third in 4:03.23.
 Bergeron, a former NHL prospect with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, has also won gold in the the 200, silver in the 400 and 800 and bronze in the 100 so far. For Gerein it was his second medal after winning the 5,000 last Saturday.
 In the women's 400, Australia's Louise Sauvage broke her Games record for the gold, clocking 54.96 seconds. Petitclerc followed in 56.83 and American Cheri Beccerra was third in 57.15.
 Petitclerc, a 26-year-old TV host, adds the medal to her golds in the 100 and 200 and silvers in the 800 and 1,500.
 In the pool, in the men's 100 backstroke B3 class for partially sighted swimmers, Wu clocked 1:04.80 to break his previous world mark of 1:05.65 set at the 1994 world championships.
 The 24-year-old travel agent has equalled his performance at those worlds by winning the 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley, 400 freestyle and 100 freestyle. He also set a world mark in the 400 freestyle.
 In the women's 100 backstroke B3 class, Marie Claire Ross of London, Ont., established a Canadian mark of 1:13.50 for the silver medal, her fifth of the Games. She has also won gold in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke and bronze in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. She set world marks in both her victories.
 Late Friday night in women's wheelchair basketball, Canada completed the Paralympic tournament undefeated at 5-0 with a hard-fought 46-37 win over the Netherlands in the championship match to defend its Games title.
 Chantal Benoit of Ottawa and Lori Radke of Calgary led the Canadian scoring with 12 points apiece.
 "It was truly a team victory," said Benoit, a member of the 1992 Paralympic Games and 1994 world champion squads. "In 1992 we were the underdogs, at the 1994 world championships we showed we had strong team and this year we showed we are no doubt, the best.
 In men's goalball, a team sport for the visually impaired, the Canadian team lost the gold medal match to world champion Finland 2-0 but it was still the best ever international finish for Canada in the sport. The previous best was fifth at the 1994 world championships.