RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Canadian Benoit Huot swam the race of his life but it wasn’t enough for him to reach the podium at the Paralympic Games in Rio.
The 19-time Paralympic medalist shaved two-tenths of a second off his personal best, despite finishing fifth against a field of strong swimmers in the men’s S10 100-metre backstroke with a time of 1:00.33
So, was the Montreal native disappointed with a fifth place finish? He was anything but.
“I’m happy. Obviously a podium is always fun,” Huot said. “If I don’t get the chance to go on the podium this time around, I’ll leave Rio really proud of what I was able to do this year.”
The Canadian record of 21 career Paralympic medals is shared by three other athletes (Timothy McIsaac, Chantal Petitclerc and Michael Edgson), all of whom Huot has a legitimate shot of passing in Rio, with the 200m individual medley, 400m freestyle, 4X100m freestyle relay and 4X100m medley relay still to come.
“I did a personal best at 32 years old. It’s the first time I’ve done a best since London 2012,” said the nine-time gold medalist. “(U.S. swim star) Michael Phelps won six medals, five of them gold, here a month ago and he didn’t do one personal best time. He’s 31. It shows how hard it is to do personal bests. We’ve done that tonight.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Maksym Krypak also swam the race of his life, finishing with a world record that surpassed by a full second the mark he had set in the preliminaries earlier Saturday.
“I really wanted to take all the energy. We see the performance, especially from Ukraine in our category. They swim amazingly. The times are getting faster and faster,” Huot said. “The Ukrainians, I think, are surprising the whole world. We were not expecting this. It’s great for the sport.”
Huot swims again Sunday in the men’s 200-metre individual medley, a race in which he won gold four years ago in London. However, he will be in tough against that same Ukrainian team, led by rising star Krypak.
“I’m going to go and get ready for tomorrow’s race, and then hopefully do another best time,” Huot said.