September 8, 2008
Canadian Valérie Grand'Maison continued
her terrific start to the Beijing Paralympics by winning her second
gold medal of the competition in the women's 400-metre freestyle
for the S13 visually impaired on Monday.
Grand'Maison, who won the 100 butterfly Sunday, smashed the world
record with a time of four minutes 28.64 seconds.
The Montreal swimmer was dominant in the race as she easily outdistanced
Russian Anna Efimenko by 8.73 seconds. Canada's Chelsey Gotell
and American Kelley Becherer both earned a bronze medals after
touching the wall in 4:37.50.
Grand'Maison, 19, who began losing her eyesight at 12 due to
macular degeneration, trains with the CAMO club at Claude Robillard
The rising star exploded onto the international scene over the
last two years and now owns five world records in 100, 200, 400
and 800 freestyle events, plus the 400 individual medley.
Victoria's Dixon swims to bronze, du Toit breaks Paralympic record
In the women's 100 freestyle for the S9 athletes with a physical
disability, Victoria resident Stephanie Dixon won her 14th career
Paralympic medal following a bronze-medal effort in a time of
South African sensation Natalie du Toit won gold by setting a
Paralympic record of 1:01.44, while Great Britain's Louise Watkin
swam to silver in 1:03.85.
Dixon is one of the most decorated Canadian athletes ever to
compete at the Paralympic Games. Prior to the Beijing Games, she
won 13 medals, including six golds. Despite being born with one
leg, she began competing against able-bodied athletes at 13, and
made Canada's national team for swimmers with a disability a year
Du Toit, who won five gold medals and a silver at the Athens
Paralympics, is one of the more amazing stories at the Games.
A motorcycle accident in 2001 forced amputation of her left leg
at the knee. However, that didn't stop the 28-year-old swimmer
from finishing 16th in the women's 10-kilometre marathon at the
Beijing Olympics that ended Aug. 24.