Canadian Petitclerc finishes Paralympic racing career with gold medal

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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BEIJING It was a bittersweet day for Canada at the Paralympics on Tuesday.

Montreals Chantal Petitclerc ended her Paralympic career by winning the 1,500 metres for her fifth gold medal of these Games and 14th overall.

But the Canadian mens wheelchair basketball team saw its quest for a record-setting third straight championship go up in smoke thanks to a 72-60 loss to Australia in the gold medal final.

Ive never won a silver medal or lost the gold, said forward Patrick Anderson of Vancouver, who led Canada with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Its weird losing the last game of the tournament.

This team has had a really good run. The Aussies have been there and been close and knocking on the door for a long time. Maybe it was a matter of time before they had their due.

Canada was 10th overall in the medal standings with 50, including 19 gold. China is first with 207 medlas (87 gold) with Great Britain second with 102 medals and the U.S. third with 98.

Petitclerc earned her 14th career Paralympic gold medal in her fifth Games in style. She broke away from the pack on the final lap and easily won the race.

In fact, before the 38-year-old crossed the finish line, she uncharacteristically began pumping her fists in the air.

I never do that, she said. I knew I was going to win the race. When I looked up and saw I was on my own it was a bonus.

These Games have been so good. I just felt like it was a gift to finish it all alone.

Afterwards, Petitclercs coach, Peter Eriksson, celebrated the victory by spraying Petitclerc with champagne.

Its worth about $5, he laughed. Its the only one I could find.

Its Chinese Baby Duck.

But there was nothing cheap about the praise Eriksson heaped on his prized pupil.

I would say she is one of the greatest Canadian athletes, he said. We shouldnt separate Olympic and Paralympic.

Im for appreciating what she has done in the movement overall.

Petitclerc hasnt lost in 10 consecutive Paralympic races dating back to 2004 in Athens. She has a total of 21 medals, including five silver and two bronze.

Petitclerc also set three world records during these Games. On Sunday she won the 200 and 800-metre races in a span of 90 minutes, setting world records in each event. She also won the 400 metres in a world-record time and the 100.

South African Oscar Pistorius completed his gold-medal haul, winning the 400 metres to go with sprint victories in the 100 and 200.

The South African double amputee known as The Blade Runner finished in 47.49 seconds, a world record for his disability class.

American Jim Bob Bizzell won the silver medal at the Birds Nest National Stadium, the venue for Olympic track and field. Ian Jones of Britain took the bronze.

Pistorius was cleared in May to run in the Beijing Olympics by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. This followed a decision by track and fields governing body that said he was ineligible.

He then failed to make the Olympic qualifying standard in the 400. He needed to run 45.55, and his best time was 46.25 run against able-bodied athletes.

Pistorius next goal is to qualify for the world championships next year in Berlin, where he would face able-bodied runners. He also is looking toward the London 2012 Olympics.

Ive got a lot of work to do before that, he said. I have five or six able-bodied meets in Europe next year and those are all stepping stones to get to the bigger meets and perform there. Im looking forward to next years calendar and next four years.

Pistorius, who won gold in the 200 in the Athens Paralympics, runs on carbon-fibre blades. He was born without a fibula, a bone in the lower leg, and both legs were amputated below the knees when he was 11 months old.

Away from the Birds Nest, Ukraine defeated Russia 2-1 in seven-per-team soccer to win the gold medal. Volodymyr Antonyuk scored twice for Ukraine and Lasha Murvanadze had Russias only goal. Iran defeated Brazil 4-0 in the bronze-medal game.

In the womens wheelchair rugby final, the U.S. defeated Australia 53-44. Canada took the bronze-medal game, beating Britain 47-41.

Also on Tuesday, Sebastian Coe said London is ready to match or surpass the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.

It is a massive responsibility, said Coe, chairman of the organizing committee for the 2012 London Games. We dont find it daunting.

Beijing has delivered a spectacular Games and we will also deliver a spectacular Games.

Geographic location: Canada, BEIJING, Great Britain U.S. Australia Vancouver China Birds Nest Athens Ukraine Berlin Europe Iran London

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