Defending world champion Benoît Huot cruised to victory in the 200 metre individual medley at the Can Am Para-swimming Championships Saturday at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
The Longueuil, Que. native finished in 2:13.94, over seven seconds better than second-place Alexander Elliot, of Waterloo.
Huot had recently moved to Toronto to be familiar with the brand new facilities ahead of the Parapan Am Games in August, and the 31-year-old is pleased so far with what’s been built.
“This is amazing. I really enjoy training here,” said Huot, who’s won 19 Paralympics Games medals, nine gold. “It’s probably the best in the country.”
Born with club feet, Huot has competed in four Paralympic Games, starting in 2000 at Athens.
It’s given him enough time to see progress in how para-sports are recognized.
“Things have been going well over the last (few) years … it’s day and night compared to what I was doing 10 years, 15 years (ago),” said Huot. “The movement has grown, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but there’s a lot more credibility, visibility towards it and that’s very positive.”
Huot was Canada’s closing ceremonies flag bearer at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. He is planning on going to Rio in 2016 for his fifth Games.
But first he wants to put on a show in his home country, and his adopted city.
“It’s one of the reasons why I’m still competing, to be able to race in front of friends and family, and in front of the home crowd, having the support,” said Huot.
“This amazing opportunity this summer will give Canadians a better chance to understand more about para-sports, and this will increase the visibility, [and] the awareness.
“It’s gonna be fun.”
Follow @lwosdanrussell on Twitter