For the fourth time in four events at the Games, Nicholas Bennett set a Canadian record in the pool, wrapping up a remarkable Paralympic debut.
Canada’s youngest athlete in Tokyo, Bennett had as successful a debut as one could have without winning any medals.
The 17-year-old came to the pool with the national record in each event he was competing in and lowered the time in each one.
In the men’s 200-metre individual medley S14 event on Tuesday, the Parksville, B.C. native broke his own Canadian record twice in eight hours, posting a time of 2:13.94 in the morning heats, and then lowering it to 2:13.21 in the final, both well below his previous record setting time of 2:15.56.
While Bennett finished seventh, he never seemed out of it — fighting for fifth most of the race and jockeying for position coming into the turn for the final 50 metres. Ultimately he could not keep pace down the stretch.
“It was a difficult one near the end. It was a faster time, of course, but I think I need to work on some endurance,” he said, post-race.
Reece Dunn, of Great Britain, took home the gold medal after posting a world record time of 2:08.02. Gabriel Bandeira, of Brazil (2:09.56), and Ukraine’s Vasyl Krainyk (2:09.92) rounded out the podium, both also finishing below the previous Paralympic record mark.
Both Dunn and Bandeira finished just ahead of Bennett in the 200-metre freestyle event four days ago.
The High Performance Centre – Quebec product leaves Tokyo finishing fifth in the 100-metre breaststroke, sixth in the 200-metre freestyle, seventh in the 200-metre individual medley and ninth in the 100 butterfly, all in the S14 classification.
“My experience at the Games has been wonderful. I was stoked just to be here,” he said. “I just want to say to my family and friends and who have been watching me from home at 1 a.m., thank you so much. It’s made my spirits so much better.”
With the Paralympics being only the second-ever international event Bennett has competed in, he will have plenty more opportunities to earn a spot on the podium, like he did four times at the 2019 Parapan American Games.