October 24, 2000
wiped out by accident
Paralympian awaits sport court ruling on need for rerun
Canadian Paralympic officials
expect to learn today whether a gold medal taken away from wheelchair
racer Chantal Petitclerc will be reinstated by the International
Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In a controversial decision on
Sunday, a Paralympic Games track referee voided the result of
a crash-marred women's 800-metre race in which Petitclerc, 30,
of Montreal, scored an unprecedented victory over Australian
Politically, it will be a tough
decision to overturn. The Canadian didn't simply upset the home
favourite, but an icon of the Paralympics.
Sauvage is the reigning world
sportsperson of the year with a disability. She lit the Games
flame in Sydney. She won seven gold medals for Australia in
the two previous Paralympics and hadn't been beaten in eight
"This decision overshadows
a brilliant performance," Canada's chef de mission, Wayne
Hellquist, said in a statement. "Chantal won that race.
She won it fairly. The decision to reschedule is indefensible."
"We [the Canadian Paralympic
Committee] will go to all lengths to ensure that Chantal and
all Canadian athletes are treated justly," CPC president
Patrick Jarvis said.
Sauvage said she was content
with her silver medal and congratulated Petitclerc. Sauvage
was not the racer who asked for a rerun of the race. The protest
came from Wakako Tsuchida of Japan, who was bounced out of her
chair in the accident and felt she had a chance at the bronze.
Petitclerc is the world's top
female wheelchair short-distance sprinter, with 1996 Paralympic
gold medals at 100 and 200 metres in Atlanta and three silvers
at longer distances. And she does hold the world record at 800
The crash, involving three athletes,
occurred at the 195-metre mark at the back of the pack. Quick-starting
Petitclerc was in the lead group.
Organizers subsequently disqualified
Patrice Dockery of Ireland for her role in the crash and nullified
the race result. However, that decision was ordered by the chief
referee. In fact, the jurisdiction for the first 200 metres
of an 800-metre race belongs to the race starter. The starter
elected to let the race continue and cannot be overruled by
the referee, Canadians argued. A postrace protest failed.
"We do not understand the
decision to deny our protest," said Earl Church, the track
team's head coach. "It is illogical and a contradiction
of the IAAF [International Amateur Athletic Federation] handbook
and the IPC [International Paralympic Committee] rules."
The referee ordered the race
to be rerun on Thursday. It will be difficult for Petitclerc
to fit it into her schedule, as she has three other races to
go: the 1,500 metres, 5,000 metres and the marathon.
Yesterday, Petitclerc and Sauvage
met in a semi-final heat of the 1,500 metres and both advanced
to today's final. Petitclerc also won a silver medal in the
100 metres last Friday.
In other events, Jeff Adams,
29, of Brampton, Ont., took the gold medal in the men's 800
metres, defending his Atlanta title in a Games record of 1 minute
38.22 seconds. Richard Reelie of Saskatoon won the bronze in
the wheelchair 5,000 metres, Lisa Franks of Moose Jaw took the
gold in the 200 and France Gagné of Quebec City captured the
bronze in the men's discus.
In the pool, visually impaired
Kirby Cote of Winnipeg and Stephanie Dixon of Caledon, Ont.,
set world records, and Philippe Gagnon of Chicoutimi, Que.,
added a third gold medal. Cote, 16, clocked 1:19.43 in the women's
100-metre breaststroke, eclipsing the previous world mark of
1:20.45, set by Marie-Claire Ross of Vancouver in 1996. Cote
broke Ross's world mark in her 200-metre individual medley win
In the women's 400 freestyle,
Dixon, 16, clocked 4:53.83 to eclipse the 4:55.57 world record,
set by Joanne Mucz of Winnipeg at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics.
In the men's 400 freestyle, Gagnon, who tried to make Canada's
Olympic team in the spring, won in a Paralympic record of 4:11.44.
Visually impaired Walter Wu of
Richmond, B.C., collected the silver medal in the men's 400-metre
freestyle. Enrique Floriano of Spain surpassed Wu's world record
of 4:21.08, set at the 1996 Paralympics, clocking 4:16.20. Wu,
who won five gold medals in Atlanta, was under his old record
Canada stands seventh in the
overall medal standings with 12 gold, 16 silver and 11 bronze
medals. Australia tops the standings with 58 medals (24-17-17).
Canada has won 21 medals in the swimming pool, eight of them
to Paralympic Index