Gold in 200m Individual Medley
Sept. 7, 2012 - Valerie Grand'Maison ended Canada's
lull in gold medals at the Paralympic Games. The 24-year-old from
Fleurimont, Que., won the women's 200-metre individual medley in
a visually impaired class in world-record time.
"I was not expecting a world record," Grand'Maison said.
"I did not expect to go that fast. That's the best prize, to
be surprised at myself."
It was Grand'Maison's third medal in London after taking silver
in both the 100 and 50 freestyle.
It also ended a dry spell at the top of the podium for Canada as
her gold was the country's first since Tuesday.
With two days of competition remaining in London, Canada had five
gold, 14 silver and eight bronze medals for a total of 27.
The Canadian team's stated objective is a top-eight finish in the
gold-medal count. With two days of competition remaining, Canada
was tied for 21st.
Day 10 was a multi-medal day for Canada with a gold, three silver
and a bronze.
Also in the pool, Amber Thomas of Drayton Valley,
Alta., claimed silver in the S11 400-metre freestyle.
At the track, wheelchair sprinter Brent Lakatos of Dorval, Que.,
earned his third silver medal of the Games by finishing second in
the 200 metres.
Ottawa's Jason Joseph Dunkerly and his guide Joshua Karanja were
silver medallists in the men's 5,000 metres for visually impaired
Virginia McLachlan of Windsor, Ont., earned bronze
in the women's 100 metres in the T35 classification, which is cerebral
Grand'Maison was Canada's most decorated athlete at the 2008 Paralympic
in Beijing with three swimming gold and a bronze. She also set two
world records there. A shoulder injury last year threatened to end
So she was relieved to gain another gold in what she saw as her
last chance to get one. Grand'Maison races the 100-metre breaststroke
Saturday, but feels she's a long shot for a medal there.
Grand'Maison eclipsed the previous world record in the 200 I.M.
with a time of two minutes 27.64 seconds.
"The pressure is finally off," Grand'Maison said. "I
have had a rough week. I have had highs and lows, but I have overcome
"Tonight I am going to hug my coach, tell him I love him,
see my family, tell them I love them. I'm going to cry on the podium."
Thomas, 18, won her first Paralympic medal after finishing fourth,
fifth and sixth in previous swims in London.
In the 400 freestyle for visually impaired swimmers, the Canadian
posted a time of 5:15.48 to finish second behind winner Daniela
Schulte of Germany in 5:14.56.
"When I got to the end I was absolutely drained so I don't
know if I could have pushed it any harder," Thomas said. "I
never felt as nervous for a race as the one tonight."
Wheelchair racer Lakatos added silver to his growing collection
of that colour by finishing second in the men's 200 metres. The
32-year-old was also a silver medallist in the 400 and 800 metres.
China's Li Huzhao won the 200 in 25.61 seconds. Lakatos posted
the fastest time of his life in 25.85 as runner-up.
"There's nothing to be unhappy about as it's a huge PB for
me," Lakatos said. "Obviously I didn't win but I gave
it everything I had and the Chinese guy is just a little bit faster
"It's been a great Games, I've got three medals and my first
three medals, so I couldn't be happier."
Dunkerly and guide Karanja led the 5,000 metres until they were
caught with just over two laps to go by Chile's Cristian Valenzuela
and his guide Cristopher Guajardo. The Chileans won in 15:26.26
followed by the Canadians in 15:34.07
"They hung behind us a little pit, then passed us and we tried
to go with them," Dunkerly said. "Josh was telling me
exactly what was going on and they were just a bit stronger than
we were. We were trying to close the gap, but they had a little
more than we did today.
"Of course when you're leading for that long, it's tough when
it kind of gets taken away from you, but we had our plan and committed
to it and let the chips fall where they do."
Dunkerly, 35, won a pair of silver medals and a bronze at previous
Paralympics in the 1,500. He and Karanja, a college steeplechase
runner, teamed up a year ago. Dunkerly feels he's made a lot of
progress in the 5K since that union.
"This is the first year I've actually, seriously trained for
the 5K, so I think it's what I'm going to focus on more in the future,"
Dunkerley said. "Josh is an all-American in the steeplechase
so training with someone like Josh, he's pushing me constantly in
every workout we do. It makes you get better."
McLachlan's bronze in the 100 was her second after also finishing
third in the 200. Just 19, McLachlan has set her sights on the 2016
Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I'm more than happy with bronze just to have another chance
to stand on that podium," McLachlan said. "As soon as
I get back, I'm going to start training for Rio. I want a different
(medal) colour at Rio. I want to hear our anthem at Rio."
Elsewhere Friday, Canada's wheelchair rugby team edged Sweden 53-52
to advance to Saturday's semifinal. Canada will face defending champion
U.S. with a berth in Sunday's championship game on the line.
The wheelchair basketball team takes on defending champion Australia
for gold Saturday.