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September 20, 2004

Petitclerc sets Paralympic record

Wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc broke a world record Monday, leading a strong day by Canadians at the Paralympic Games.

Petitclerc, from Montreal, reclaimed the world record in the women's 100-metre sprint for paraplegic wheelchair racers during Monday's heats.

She clocked 16.45 seconds to eclipse the previous mark of 16.59 set by American Cheri Becerra in October 2000. Petitclerc had set the previous mark in 1996.

"It's just fantastic to break the ice here that way," said

Petitclerc. "It was one my goals to break that world record. I had been lowering it in training so I knew I was close."

An 11-time Paralympic medallist competing at her fourth Games, Petitclerc also won gold in the 800-metre demonstration event at last month's Olympics.

She advanced to the next round.

Swimmer Kirby Cote also won gold Monday. Canada's total is up to 12 medals, with four gold, three silver and two bronze, while China still leads with 30.

Cote, who won Canada's first medal of the Games on Sunday with a gold in the 100-metre butterfly, won the 400 freestyle event for visually impaired athletes Monday.

The second gold came easier for the 20-year-old from Winnipeg, who battled nerves Sunday.

"I was a lot less nervous going into this race. For some reason I really enjoy swimming 400 freestyle," Cote said.

"My strategy was to just not go too hard in that first 150 and then really pick it up for that last 250 metres. I think I was maybe third at the 150, but 250 into the race I was first. I came back really strong.

"If I had gone out a little faster I probably would have broken the world record but maybe another time." Stephanie Dixon of Victoria picked up her second silver of the Games with a personal best 1:05.31 in the women's 100 freestyle.

"I didn't have a very good morning swim in the preliminaries," said Dixon, a leg amputee. "But I was so much more focused in the final."

In the women's long jump final for amputees, Andrea Holmes of Vancouver finished eighth with a season best 4.16 metres.

In wheelchair tennis, Yuka Chokyu of Vancouver won her opening round singles match 6-1, 7-5 over Jacqueline Courtier of New Zealand and advanced to the round of 16.

Helene Simard of Charlesbourg, Que., fell 6-3, 6-4 against Sakhorn Khanthasit of Thailand.

Reprinted with permission

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