Canadian bids farewell to Australian star with 1500m wheelchair victory at Commonwealth Games
GOLD COAST, Australia – The competition was billed as the final track race for Australian star Kurt Fearnley.
Canada’s Alexandre Dupont said farewell by winning the gold medal in the men’s T54 1500m wheelchair race ahead of Fearnley to highlight a four-medal day for Canada’s Para athletes at the Commonwealth Games.
Dupont, a triple gold medallist at the 2015 Parapan Am Games, clocked three minutes and 11.75 seconds upsetting highly-favored Fearnley second in 3:11.92. Jake Lappin of Australia won the bronze in 3:12.60.
The two-time Canadian Paralympian was second entering the last lap and passed Fearnley on his right in the next to last turn.
‘’I’m not use to being at the top of the podium,’’ said Dupont, from Clarenceville, Que. ‘’I had lots of energy. I felt like I could have raced again. Kurt was the favorite. All eyes were on him.
‘’He is a legend in the sport.’’
Fearnley will continue to race in marathon events but as of now, is finished with track racing. He retires a three-time Paralympic gold medal winner and four-time World Champion.
“(It was) bloody tough,” he said after the race. “I just wanted to make sure I was up there and able to cover whatever happened. I willed everything I had in that last 80. It was just not quite enough.”
Trystan Smith of Lake Country, B.C. was seventh in 3:14.88,
Diane Roy of Sherbrooke, Que., competing at her fifth Paralympic Games, added a bronze in the women’s 1500-m wheelchair race. Australia was 1-2 with Madison de Rozario first at 3:34.06 and Angela Ballard second at 3:36.85. Roy was just edged for the silver finishing in 3:36.97.
Jessica Frotten of Whitehorse did not finish.
In the pool, Canada earned two medals in the women’s Para swimming 50-m freestyle. Lakeisha Patterson of Australia won in 30.14. Morgan Bird of Calgary followed for silver in 32.03 and Abi Tripp of Kingston, Ont., won the bronze in 32.49.
‘’Every time I represent Canada it’s just surreal,’’ said Bird. ‘’To be able to get a podium performance I can’t express what that means to me.’’
Tripp was surprised to be on the podium.
‘’I just wanted to come here, experience the Games and go fast,’’ she said. ‘’Getting a medal is just the cherry on top. To win it with Morgan is so special. We’re really good teammates and friends and we also love to embrace each other in the pool. It’s tough competition but so much fun.’’
Canadian Para swimmers earned five of Canada’s 20 medals as the racing in the pool concluded. Other medallists this week were Sarah Mehain of Vernon, B.C., with silver in the 50-m butterfly, Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., also with silver in the 200-m individual medley and Philippe Vachon of Trois-Rivieres, Que., with bronze in the men’s 200-m IM.
In Para table tennis, Parapan Am Games champion Stephanie Chan of Richmond, B.C., won her opening round robin match over Vaishnavi Sutar of India 11-1, 11-2, 11-3.
On the men’s side, Ian Kent of Eastern Passage, N.S., lost his opener 8-11, 11-3, 12-10, 11-7 to Mohamad Azwar Bakar of Malaysia.
The para table tennis tournaments continue through the rest of the week.
Full results: https://results.gc2018.com/en/all-sports/competition-schedule.htm