RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – For the ambitious Aurélie Rivard, gold isn’t good enough.
She wants to smash records, too.
“I’m a little bit disappointed in my own performance, I own the world record,” said a breathless Rivard after the S10 women’s 100m freestyle. “So, of course, I wanted to break my own time, I wanted to improve myself. I know what I did wrong, though, so it’s OK.
“I’m sure once I’m on the podium I’m going to forget about this.”
Rivard has won three medals including two gold at the Rio Games and the Quebec native is a favourite, alongside wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos, to carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremony.
But she is trying to not let her achievements go to her head.
“I try not to look at them, my other medals,” Rivard said. “I already hid them in my suitcase so I don’t see them when I’m at the village.”
When asked why, she laughed and shook her head.
“Even if I win, my meet is not over,” Rivard said. “I still have three races to go, so I really just want to focus as much as I can on those, and later I’ll think about my medals and what I accomplished.”
Rivard’s dominance has inevitably brought comparisons to Penny Oleksiak, the young Canadian swimmer who collected four medals at the Rio Olympics in August.
Rivard has embraces that.
“Her performances were really inspiring for us,” said the 20-year-old. “We love to see her perform like that and win, it’s great to be able to win (as many) medals as her.”
Athletes in Rio have been teasing their Olympic counterparts throughout the Games; Paralympic medals are slightly more valuable than Olympic medals, thanks to the addition of braille on their surface. Finding out, Rivard laughed.
“I didn’t know that,” she said. “These medals, though, they are so valuable to me, I would never trade them for the world.”
But she would like to make an impact in the world, beyond the pool, as a role model for children.
“It’s what I want to do, actually,” she said. “If I can just inspire kids to reach for their dreams, I’m really happy about that.