Aurélie Rivard flew through the final minute of the 4×100-metre freestyle relay to close a huge gap and move her Canadian team from sixth to a fifth-place finish, surrounded by screams of the Americans, who secured first.
But not for long.
Canada’s efforts were rewarded with a bronze medal when the U.S. and Great Britain were disqualified from the Paralympic race for leaving their blocks before teammates touched the wall.
Rivard of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. swam 58.10 in the fourth leg of the relay final that her team finished in 4:30.40.
“The race was pretty exciting,” said Rivard. “It was a lot of fun. It was a nice moment to share with the girls.”
The 25-year-old now has a gold and two bronze in Tokyo, upping her overall medal count to eight across three Paralympics appearances.
Joining her as a vet on the relay team is Katarina Roxon, a Kippins, N.L native competing in her fourth Paralympic games and a gold medalist in the Rio 2016 100-metre breaststroke SB8.
Both Rivard and Roxon competed with the relay squad that claimed bronze at the London 2019 world championships.
Rookies on the team in Tokyo are three-time Paralympian Morgan Bird, and Rio 2016 swimmer Sabrina Duchesne.
“I’m really proud of them,” Rivard said of her team, “and I’m also really happy to have contributed to Morgan and Sabi’s first Paralympic medals.”
Bird (S8), from Calgary, Alta., took the first leg of the final for Canada, finishing in 1:11.66. Roxon (S9) went second in 1:06.91 and St. Augustin, Que.’s Duchesne (S7) followed in 1:13.73.
“It’s honestly more than I could have asked for,” Duchesne said about the medal. “I’m really happy with that. It was my first relay at the Paralympics, so honestly I have no words.”
The 20-year-old had quite the day, not only making her first career individual Paralympics finals appearance, but also destroying her own Canadian record in the 400-metre S7 freestyle, lowering from 5:29.21 to 5:20.50 for a fifth-place finish.