Paralympian calls re-race an injustice

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BEIJING Diane Roy says having to return her Paralympic gold medal is an injustice but the Canadian wheelchair racer intends to win it back.

BEIJING Diane Roy says having to return her Paralympic gold medal is an injustice but the Canadian wheelchair racer intends to win it back.

The International Paralympic Committee overturned the results of Roys 5,000-metre victory Monday night because of a chaotic crash and an official who ran onto the track. The race has been rescheduled for Friday morning.

Its unjust for a lot of people, for the team, for me, for my coach for the other athletes, a defiant Roy said Tuesday in her first comments about the incident. What will happen when we have another race and there is a crash? Will they re-run each race?

Its ridiculous. Its an accident. Its happened often during races. Thats the game. We know about that. We know it can happen. We have to deal with that.

As frustrated and angry as the Hatley, Que., resident is over the decision, she plans to compete when the 5,000 is run again, though it makes for a crowded schedule.

Roy, 37, will race a 400-metre heat Thursday night. The 400 final is Friday night.

For sure, in the 400, I will be tired, said Roy, wearing a red Maple Leaf bandana. I will try to recover the best I can do.

I will focus on the 5,000. It is the most important race for me. The 400, we will see.

She also will race the 800-metre heats on Saturday, with the final on Sunday, and 1,500-metre heats Monday, with the final Tuesday. Roy also planned to compete in Wednesdays marathon.

Mondays race at the National Stadium was marred by a spectacular crash that involved six of the 11 athletes.

Roy avoided the melee and had received her gold in a medal ceremony. She learned later shed have to return the medal and the race had been rescheduled.

I was disappointed and very sad about that, said Roy. I have to focus because I have other races. If I want to win again I have to concentrate.

Strangely, no one from the IPC has come around to collect Roys medal, which remains in her room at the athletes village.

Maybe they are confused, Roy said with a grin.

The mishap in the T54 race for wheelchair athletes with different levels of spinal cord injuries and amputations occurred just before the final lap. Switzerlands Edith Hunkeler appeared to run into teammate Sandra Graf. That caused a chain reaction crash which left several athletes, including Hunkeler, on the ground. Two athletes were later taken to hospital.

The remaining racers were further impeded with about 50 metres left when a judge rushed on to the track to help some of the fallen athletes.

Chris Cohen, chairman of the International Paralympic Committees athletic executive committee, said the race jury made the proper decision to redo the race.

The fact over half the athletes in the race clearly were disadvantaged, including the athletes who actually managed to carry on in their chairs ... they (the jury) felt the race needed to run again but without the athlete who created the situation, Cohen told a news conference.

Organizations: International Paralympic Committees

Geographic location: BEIJING, Maple Leaf, Wednesdays National Stadium

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