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September 12, 2008

Petitclerc captures 10th Paralympic gold medal

Canadians Chantal Petitclerc and Diane Roy collected more medals for Canada at the Paralympic Games on Friday in Beijing.

Montreal's Petitclerc continued her farewell to the Paralympics as she won her 10th career gold medal by taking the women's 400-metre T54 for wheelchair track athletes with a season-best time of 52.02 seconds at China's National Stadium. Petitclerc missed breaking her own world record by 11-100ths of a second.

It was also the 18th career medal earned by Petitclerc, who is competing in her fifth and final Paralympics. She began her competition in Beijing with a victory in the 100-metre T54 event two days ago.

On Friday, the 38-year-old champion won in convincing fashion, finishing 47-100th of a second ahead of silver medallist Tatyana McFadden of the U.S.

Roy, of Hatley, Que., earned a bronze medal after crossing the line in a season-best time of 54.72.

It was her second medal of the day. Roy was beaten at the finish line and place second in the gruelling 5,000 T54 final Friday morning.

"She's tough," Petitclerc said of Roy. "For her to make the podium in the 400 after this morning, she's a tough girl. It's been very challenging for her."

Jessica Matassa, from Oldcastle, Ont., finished seventh in 57.02.

The Paralympics have not been kind to Roy, a four-time Paralympian.

The Quebec native thought she had won gold on Monday in the 5,000, but the International Paralympic Committee overturned the result after half the field was involved in a major crash and an official ran onto the track.

The race was rescheduled for Friday morning where American Amanda McGrory edged Roy by 1-100th of a second to deny the 37-year-old a gold medal.

While Roy was pleased with her performance, she remains frustrated over her loss Friday morning.

"It was hard," she said. "I had to refocus on the 400. I knew I could do it."

As for Petitclerc, she is targeting five gold medals in Beijing, the same number she won in Athens four years ago.

"I am trying to go one solid race at a time and not think about the next one," she said. "This is the second best time in history for the 400. It's the closest I've been to that four-year-old world record so I am happy about it."

Three more medals for Canada
Canada won three more bronze medals in track and field on Friday. Dean Bergeron of St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Que., finished third in the men's 400-metre T52 competition, while Kyle Pettey of Brampton, Ont., took third place in the F33/34/52 (wheelchair field athletes with cerebral palsy) shot put event.

Ilana Duff, of Bradwell, Sask., took home a bronze in the women's 100 T53 race.

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