The 25-year-old finished the race with an astonishing 4:24.08, over five seconds faster than the world record she set at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships (4:29.27), and her previous Paralympic record of 4:29.96 that she set in Rio 2016.
“My race went great. I really wanted to focus on the technical aspects, like I did in the 100 free,” Rivard said post-race. “When I noticed I was ahead of the other girls, I just focused on the black line at the bottom of the pool and on finishing the race as fast as I could and see if I could lower the world record.
“I’m really happy to have lowered it and to have won the gold medal.”
This podium was the fourth of the Games for Rivard, who previously won a gold in the 100-metre freestyle, where she also broke her own world record; a bronze in the 50-metre freestyle; and a bronze in the 4×100-metre freestyle.
Rivard has now amassed five gold medals, two silver and two bronze across her three Paralympic appearances.
The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. native was in first place for nearly the entire race. She led at all turns and was more than one second ahead at the 100-metre mark, gradually increasing her lead with each length.
She eventually finished 5.75 seconds ahead of silver medallist Bianka Pap of Hungary (4:29.83). Oliwia Jablonska of Poland took home the bronze with a time of 4:33.20.
After losing out on the gold to Jablonska in the 400-metre freestyle at the 2019 World Championships in London, Rivard put in the time and effort to make sure she was on top of her game coming into Tokyo.
“Two years ago, I lost this race for the first time in six years and I hated the feeling. I wasn’t ready for that race and I hated the feeling of losing an event I have been winning for so long. I made a promise to myself that it would never happen again,” Rivard said.
“For the past two years, 95 per cent of my work has gone into that race. I worked really hard every single day to try and maintain the pace, try to lower that time as much as possible. I have been working on that for the last two years, making sure I was better than everybody else in the field.”
A finalist for the Lou Marsh Award in 2016 as Canada’s athlete of the year, Rivard may have once again worked her way into that conversation.
The Canadian star has a chance to add more medals to her collection when she competes in the 100-metre backstroke S10 on Thursday and the 200-metre individual medley SM10 on Friday.