September 18, 2004
Swimmer Kirby Cote wins Canada’s
ATHENS- Swimmer Kirby Cote of Winnipeg won Canada’s first
medal at the Paralympic Games on Sunday with a golden performance
in the women’s 100-metre butterfly for the visually impaired.
The victory highlighted a great day for Canadian swimmers who earned
four medals. Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver added silver in the
men’s 400 freestyle, Stephanie Dixon of Victoria was also
second in a women’s 100 butterfly and Andrea Cole of Thunder
Bay, Ont., won bronze in another 100 butterfly.
In the women’s 100 butterfly for visually impaired, Cote
clocked a Canadian record 1:07.44, a personal best by more than
a second. That bettered the previous national mark of 1:07.48 set
by Marie Claire Ross of London, Ont., in 1997.
"I was really nervous because going into it I was expecting
a much closer race,’’ said Cote, 20, a double Paralympic
champion in 2000. ‘’But once I dove right in, it was
automatic for me. My goal here is to win all of my five races and
this is the kind of start I needed.’’
Prue Watt of Australia was second in 1:08.41 and Rhiannon Henry
of Britain third in 1:09.21. Chelsey Gotell of Antigonish, N.S.,
was fifth in 1:121.05
In the women’s 100 butterfly in the S9 category, Natalie
du Toit of South Africa lowered her world record to 1:07.54 for
the gold medal. Dixon, a leg amputee, broke a 12-year-old Canadian
record clocking 1:12.01 while Kate Bailey of Australia was third
"I’m so happy,’’ said Dixon, 20, who won
four gold medals at the 2000 Games and the beat previous national
mark of 1:14.47 set by Joanna Mucz of Winnipeg at the 1992 Paralympics.
‘’I’ve been working a lot on my starts and that
came through for me. I just made sure I kept focused on my lane.
It’s a big challenge to catch Natalie but I’m very happy
for and she’s really helping our sport.’’
In the men’s 400 freestyle for visually impaired, Viktor
Smyrnov of the Ukraine fooled everybody by cruising to the gold
in 4:44.79. Tildesley didn’t recover from a slow start and
took the silver in 4:49.68 and Enhamed Mohamed of Spain was third
I had no idea Smyrnov could go that fast,’’ said Tildesley.
"But he showed a lot of power in the final after a pretty slow
preliminary. I was hoping for a gold but it’s a medal at the
Paralympic Games and I couldn’t be happier. I went into it
very focused and I knew I could do the job. I was ready.’’
In the women’s S8 100 butterfly, Immacolata Cerasuolo of
Italy was the winner in 1:23.04 with Dora Pasztory of Hungary second
in 1:23.85 and Cole, a double medallist in Sydney, third in 1:24.78.
Elisabeth Walker of St. Catharines, Ont., was 11th.
Other Canadian results for the men: Andrew Haley of Toronto was
seventh in the S9 100 butterfly, Brian Hill of Duncan, B.C., and
Walter Wu of Richmond, B.C., tied for fourth in the men’s
100 butterfly for visually impaired and Adam Purdy of London, Ont.,
10th in the S6 200 individual medley.
For the women, Walker was also sixth in the S7 200 IM.
Competition continues Monday.