TOKYO – Make it 10 career Paralympic medals for Canadian swimming sensation Aurélie Rivard.
The 25-year-old from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., claimed silver in the women’s 100-m backstroke S10 Thursday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre to add to her impressive collection that now includes five gold, three silver and two bronze across three Paralympic Games.
It marked her fifth podium finish in as many events in the Japanese capital (2-1-2), one more that her haul from Rio 2016 (3-1-0), where she missed out on a medal in the 100 back by only 23 hundredths of a second.
“The medal was unexpected. I was aiming for a podium. I’m really happy to have gotten silver,” said Rivard, who had captured bronze in the event at the London 2019 world championships. “The race was awesome, I finished really well. I’m really pleased with the way that I raced even though I had no idea where I was in the field until I touched the wall.”
After qualifying fifth in the heats in 1:11.11, Rivard captured silver in a personal best time of 1:08.94 thanks to a remarkable comeback in the second half of the final.
The Canadian was fifth at the turn but posted a blazing fast 34.90 on the way back, second only to gold medal winner Bianka Pap of Hungary, to overcome three rivals in the second 50.
Pap, the silver medallist from Rio 2016 and London 2019, prevailed in 1:06.70. Reigning world champion Lisa Kruger of the Netherlands took bronze in 1:09.44.
“It’s a PB. I hadn’t been under 1:09.00 my entire life so overall I’m very pleased with my first medal in the 100 back ever,” said Rivard, who trains at Club de Natation Région de Québec in Quebec City.
“I hadn’t put a lot of pressure on myself for this race because it’s not an event I train for very often.”
As a team, Canada has seven swimming medals (2-3-2) heading into the final day of competition in Tokyo.
Also competing in a final on Thursday was the women’s 4×100 medley relay team composed of Danielle Kisser (High Performance Centre – Quebec) of Delta, B.C., Katarina Roxon (Aqua Aces Swim Club) of Kippens, N.L., Morgan Bird (HPC-Quebec) of Calgary and Abi Tripp (Kingston Y Penguins Aquatic Club) of Kingston, Ont.
After originally placing seventh, the foursome was disqualified on the second changeover.
The United States triumphed in 4:52.40, with the Russian Paralympic Committee (4:55.55) and Australia (4:55.70) rounding out the podium.
“The race was honestly the funnest thing I’ve ever done. It was fun to be in my first Paralympic final,” said Kisser, a first-time Paralympian who led off with a 1:44.06 effort in the backstroke. “We went into knowing that we didn’t have any pressure on ourselves and we had a lot of fun. It was just so much fun to show Canada that you can enjoy what you’re doing at a high level and I feel that we accomplished that.
“The result isn’t necessarily quite ideal but we came into it looking just to have fun in a Paralympic final and to do the best we can, and that’s what we did.”
Only one other Canadian swimmer was in action on Thursday.
Angela Marina (Brantford Aquatic Club) of Cambridge, Ont., placed 10th in the heats of the women’s 100 back S14 in 1:14.82.
This marked the last event in Tokyo for the first-time Paralympian, who earlier in the Games finished sixth in the 200 freestyle, 11th in the 100 butterfly and 13th in the 100 breaststroke. In last Friday’s 200 free, the 22-year-old became the first Canadian woman in history to reach a Paralympic final in the S14 class.
Wayne Lomas, Swimming Canada’s Associate High Performance Director and National Para Swimming Coach, praised Rivard for her preparation and professional approach to racing.
“Aurélie was once again rewarded for her personal best tonight, her third of the meet, with her fifth medal of these Games. It is always pleasing to see athletes swim their race exactly to plan and for that to be rewarded by a PB and a medal. Aurélie and coach Marc-André Pelletier have managed themselves so professionally, not just during these Paralympic Games, but throughout the nearly 18 months of uncertainty that they have navigated to bring them here this week.
“Our relay team of Danielle, Katarina, Morgan and Abi also brought our team a lot of excitement as each swimmer gave their performance everything. Each Canadian athlete did our team proud. This relay performance also served as an excellent way for Morgan to prepare for tomorrow’s direct final in the 100-m butterfly. As we move into the final day of these Games, we are looking forward to more great racing and having a strong finish to the meet.”
Full schedule and results: