Canada’s Paralympic team is coming into the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro on a mission.
The objective is to improve upon a tough performance at the 2012 Games in London that saw Canada finish with its lowest amount of gold medals (7) and total medals (31) since the 1972 Paralympics in Heidelberg, West Germany.
It is expected that the Canadian Paralympic Team will be competitive in the overall medal race and the battle for gold medals in September.
Here are five Canadian para-athletes expected to finish on top of the podium in Rio:
- Brent Lakatos, wheelchair racing: This T53 wheelchair racer, a native of Dorval, Que., is favoured to win at least three races at the upcoming Rio Games due to hisdominance at international competitions following London. He won gold medals in the 100, 200, 400 and 800-metre races at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships, and he nearly repeated that feat again in 2015 but he finished with silver in the 400-metre event. The three-time silver medalist at the 2012 Games is the no.1-ranked T53 wheelchair racer in the world for the 100,200 and 400-metre distances.
- Aurelie Rivard, swimming: The 20-year-old from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que is poised to challenge for multiple gold medals considering she captured world titles in the 50-metre and 400-metre freestyle swims at last year’s world championships in Scotland. Rivard also owns the IPC 100-metre freestyle world record (59.17) for S10 swimmers. She is making her second appearance at the Paralympic Games. She won silver in the 400-metre freestyle in 2012.
- Tristen Chernove, cycling: It is quite astonishing how quickly the 41-year-old of Cranbrook, B.C. has established himself as a huge gold medal threat for the Rio Games. He only made his international competition debut in Italy back in March and he has already established himself as the top-ranked C2 cyclist in the world. He will contend for gold in both road cycling and track cycling in Brazil.
- Pamela LeJean, shot put: LeJean, a resident of Halifax, N.S., enters this year’s Paralympics atop the world rankings for F53 shot put throwers. She enjoyed a very strong 2015 season on the international stage as she won gold at the Parapan Am Games and silver at the IPC World Championships. The competition will be stiff for the 31-year-old as her best throw of 4.48 is only one hundredth of a metre greater than Bahrain’s Fatema Nedham.
- Stefan Daniel, para-triathlon: His first place finish at the world championships last year sent a clear message that this 19-year-old from Victoria, B.C. is capable of capturing a gold medal as a competitor in the first ever Paralympic para-triathlon competition. He followed this impressive feat by finishing first in a International Triathlon Union (ITU) race in Yokohoma, Japan this year. Read Quinton Amundson’s feature story on Daniel.
Photo Credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee