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September 15, 2008

Canadian track star Stilwell takes 2nd Paralympic gold

Canadian racer Michelle Stilwell captured her second gold medal of the Paralympic Games with a victory in the women's 100-metre T52 for wheelchair track athletes Monday in Beijing.

Stilwell, from Nanoose Bay, B.C., crossed the line in a world-record time of 19.97 seconds. Japan grabbed the next two spots as Tomomi Yamaki (21.00) and Teruyo Tanaka (21.33) won silver and bronze, respectively.

Stilwell, 34, a member of the national wheelchair basketball team that captured gold in Sydney eight years ago, also took gold in the women's 200 T52 event last week.

Stilwell suffers from chiari malformation, a congenital condition consisting of structural imperfections in the part of the brain that controls balance.

She was forced to retire from the national basketball team for medical reasons. Her current coach, Peter Lawless, encouraged her to take up wheelchair racing at a coaching clinic, and she began competing for the Canadian national team in 2006.

On the men's side, Toronto's Jason Dunkerley won a bronze medal in the 1,500-metre T11 for track and field athletes who are visually impaired — the same race he earned a silver medal at both the Athens and Sydney Paralympics.

Grand'Maison continues to shine
Montreal competitor Valérie Grand'Maison continued her stellar performance in the pool, earning a silver medal in the women's 50-metre freestyle S13 for swimmers with a visual impairment.

Grand'Maison just missed out on winning her fourth gold medal of the Games, finishing 3-100ths of a second behind American Kelley Becherer, who won in a time of 27.85.

The first-time Paralympian has won five medals in Beijing, including three gold medals, while setting two world records. Winnipeg's Kirby Côté finished fourth, and Chelsey Gotell, of Antigonish, N.S., placed sixth.

Canada earned a second medal in the pool in the men's competition as Montreal swimmer Benoit Huot won a bronze in the 400-metre freestyle S10 for athletes with a physical disability.

Huot, a four-time gold medallist at the Athens Games in 2004, has won three medals in Beijing.

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