Canadians in semifinal
Whitehead, Schmutz vie for medal in wheelchair rugby
Harrow’s Mike Whitehead and Windsor’s Erika Schmutz will play for a medal after helping Canada to the semifinals in mixed wheelchair rugby at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.
Canada split its two games on the weekend to finish second in its group.
The Canadians will play Great Britain in the semifinals today.
In a showdown for first place in its pool Sunday, Canada lost 37-32 to the United States with Whitehead scoring four goals. Saturday, Canada clinched a spot in the medal round with a 57-24 win over China. Whitehead had eight goals in that game and Schmutz added three goals.
It was a tough weekend on the track for Oldcastle’s Jessica Matassa. The 22-year-old was a bronze medallist in the T54 women’s 800-metre wheelchair race at the 2004 Games.
Saturday, she finished fourth in her heat in 1:58.60 and failed to advance to the final.
Ranked third in the world in the 200 metres, Matassa was third in her heat Sunday and finished fifth in the final in 30.14.
Windsor’s Megan Muscat failed to advance to the final after finishing seventh in her heat of the T37 women’s 300 metres in 33.63.
Windsor’s Stefanie Reid begins her quest for a second medal today in the T12 women’s 200 metres. Reid won a bronze medal in the 100 metres last week.
In women’s wheelchair basketball, Windsor-native Misty Thomas helped Canada to a 56-43 win over China Sunday in the consolation round. Thomas had eight points and a teamhigh 10 rebounds. Canada plays the Netherlands today for fifth place.
In other action, Montreal’s Chantal Petitclerc won two Paralympic gold medals 80 minutes apart Sunday, breaking her own world records in the T54 class 200- and 800-metre races.
Her twin-killing was the individual highlight of another strong day for Canada, which won three gold at the track and two in the pool to move into a tie for sixth place with South Africa in the 2008 Games with 17 gold. China leads the way with 63, while Great Britain has 41 and the U.S. 30.
The most dramatic moment of the day, however, came minutes before midnight as the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team pulled out a dramatic double-overtime semifinal victory over the U.S., 69-62.
The Canadians, going for a third consecutive gold medal, trailed by 14 at halftime, but forced overtime on a three-pointer from Patrick Anderson of Vancouver with 16 seconds remaining.
Canada will get a day off today then play Australia for gold Tuesday.
“We’re going to need it,” Anderson said. “Some guys are banged up and just the emotional energy we spent, we’re going to need a day to recover from it.”
Golden on track
The other track gold came from amputee sprinter Earle Connor of Calgary, who won the men’s T42 100 metres four years after being suspended for two years shortly before the 2004 Games in Athens for a positive drug test.
The swimming gold came from visually impaired Chelsey Gotell of Hamilton in the women’s S13 100-metre backstroke and from Anne Polinario of Montreal in the S10 50-metre freestyle.
Both defended gold medals won in Athens.
Petitclerc’s gold in front of a noisy crowd at the nearly full 91,000-seat National Stadium, were her third and fourth of the Beijing Games and come four years after she won all five events she entered in Athens.
“This is the best ever,” said Petitclerc, who now has a total of 20 medals from five Games.