Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Finishes Second in a Parapan Am Games That Were about More Than Medals

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Finishes Second in a Parapan Am Games That Were about More Than Medals

Article excerpt

Canada finishes second in Parapan Am medals

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TORONTO - Stephanie Dixon remembers returning home from the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, and being unable to celebrate her successes with anyone.

Nobody knew what Paralympic sport was.

"Here, after having these Parapan American Games in Toronto, I know that none of our athletes will ever have to put their heads down coming home from competition," said Dixon, a former Paralympic swimmer and the assistant chef de mission of Canada's team in Toronto. "They'll be able to raise their heads up high and be proud of their accomplishments. All of our athletes are being put in a position of being a role model and a hero in our country.

"And that just makes me so proud."

Canada set a target of finishing top-three in medals at the Parapan American Games, that wrapped up Saturday. Mission accomplished. The team went one better, finishing second with 168 medals -- 50 gold, 63 silver and 55 bronze. Brazil finished atop the table with 257 medals (109-74-74), while the United States was third with 135 medals.

But the victory of these Games wasn't just about medals won, but about the fans won over along the way. The victory was in the jam-packed crowd that watched Canada's wheelchair rugby team beat the U.S. for gold, and a similarly large and noisy crowd that cheered on Canada's wheelchair basketball teams, which both came away with silver.

"Who's to say that a young child living with an impairment hasn't been inspired by what they've seen on TV and decided to take up para-sports?" said Craig Spence, communications director for the International Paralympic Committee. "You'll see next year in Rio a whole host of young British athletes who were inspired by the 2012 London Paralympic Games, and I think you'll see a similar situation here, Canadians who've been inspired by the performances of Aurelie Rivard will be wanting to compete.

"These Games will leave many legacies, but you don't judge them by the end of play tonight, but over the next 10 or 15 years."

These were the largest Parapan Am Games in history, with 1,600 athletes competing.

Canada fielded its largest-ever team of 216 athletes, and the results showed. …

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