ATLANTA (CP) -- The 132-member Canadian team at the 10th Paralympic Games
has high hopes for the next nine days of competition.
The Canadians are armed with 24 world record holders and 18 world champions.
The goal is to equal the 75 medals and the top-10 finish in the medal standings achieved four years ago in Barcelona.
But it could be difficult, and not only because a record 3,500 athletes from 120 countries are entered.
"The atmosphere here is not good at all," said Canada's best known Paralympian, Jeff Adams of Toronto, entering his second Games.
"We have a lot of problems with transportation and we've been lining up nearly two hours for food at the village. If we have to do that while we're competing it's going to be a mess. Everytime we see a Spaniard goes by everyone goes: 'I wish we were in Barcelona again.'"
In wheelchair racing, Adams looks to avenge a huge disappointment when he didn't qualify for the 1,500-metre Olympic demonstration race final last month. He is the reigning world champion in the 1,500 but won't race that event because he had given his spot two months ago to a teammate.
He also holds the world record in the 200 and 400.
"The 400 and 800 will be my strong ones," said Adams, 25. "I'll be meeting a lot of the guys I'd normally race in the 1,500 in those events. I'm doing really good quarters now and the track is smoking fast. If the conditions are right I think I can get at least one world record."
Canada's best female wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc of Ste-Foy, Que., was a disappointing fifth in the demonstration 800-metre race at the Olympics.
The 26-year-old TV host is the current world champion over 200 and 400 metres.
In the long distance races, veteran Andre Viger of Montreal enters his fifth Paralympics. At age 43, the former Boston Marathon champion looks to defend his 10,000-metre title and add medals in the marathon and 5,000.
Other wheelchair racers to watch include world record holders Dean Bergeron of Quebec City, a former NHL prospect when he played for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Clayton Gerein of Regina who recently broke the world mark in the 10,000 for quadriplegics.
Others to watch in track and field are, cerebral palsy thrower Joanne Bouw, of St. Catharines, Ont., who'll be in tough to duplicate her triple gold performances of the past two Paralympics; amputee sprinter Frank Bruno of Toronto, also a defending triple gold medallist from Barcelona and blind thrower Ljiljana Ljubisic of Coquitlam, B.C., defending world and Paralympic champion in discus.
In the pool, Canada has a small 13-member team but seven of them hold at least one world record in their class. Andrew Haley of Dartmouth, N.S., one of two Canadian swimmers to win gold at the 1994 Commonwealth Games where disabled sports were integrated in both track and swimming, leads the team.