Purdy's golden moment
World record old hat, but winning at Paralympics a new experience for Londoner
Free Press staff and Canadian Press
SYDNEY, Australia -- Adam Purdy finally has his Paralympic gold medal.
After holding the world record in the 100-metre backstroke since 1988, the 19-year-old Londoner broke his own record Friday in Sydney with a time of one minute, 18.14 seconds.
His former mark of 1:18.48 was set last year in Etobicoke.
"It's been a long wait for a medal," said Purdy. "Seeing everybody break world records and win gold medals made me very anxious for the race."
Swen Michaelis of Germany was second to Purdy by more than three seconds and Jianhua Yin of China placed third.
Purdy first captured the world record at the Dutch Open in Holland in 1988.
A member of the London Aquatic Club and coached by LAC assistant coach Andrew Craven, who is head of the Canadian swim team here, Purdy entered the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics as one of the top-ranked swimmers in his category but missed out on a medal.
He, an S6 disability on a scale of 1-10, with one being the most severe, has a disorder called arthrogryposis, which left him with a club foot and some muscles that did not develop.
Purdy's gold highlighted another great day in the pool for Canadians. Besides Purdy, Stephanie Dixon of Caledon and Walter Wu of Richmond, B.C., won gold to highlight a five-medal Canadian performance.
With one day left in the swim competition, the Canadians have won 38 medals (18 gold, 12 silver and eight bronze) in the pool.
Dixon broke her own world record in the women's 100-metre backstroke to earn her fourth gold medal of the Games in a time of 1:11.04 seconds. Darda Geiger of Sarnia was fourth.
"It's still a shock every single time you win a gold medal," said Dixon. "It's the Paralympics and anything can happen. I would have liked to go under 1:11, but that's tough to do when you have a big lead."
In the men's 100m backstroke, Wu, a visually impaired swimmer, earned his second gold with a Paralympic record time.
Benoit Huot of St-Hubert, Que., and Anne Polinario of Toronto added silver and bronze in their respective 100-metre backstroke events.
Meanwhile, Canada won its third straight Paralympic gold medal in women's wheelchair basketball Friday with a 46-27 win over Australia.
The Canadians won gold in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. Six of these Canadian team members were in Barcelona and all but two were in Atlanta.
Ottawa's Chantal Benoit, one of the top wheelchair players of her era, led all scorers with 13 points and added seven rebounds.
"Our team is very special," Benoit said. "As individuals we are all good at some aspect of the game and we perfect that aspect. I'm proud and lucky to be part of this team."
The men's basketball team goes for gold against the Netherlands on Saturday.
Chantal Petitclerc of Montreal won her second track gold medal of the Games in the 200 metres. Petitclerc beat double gold medallist Cheri Becerra of the U.S., who had set a world record at the distance in the morning's semifinal heat.
"I knew I had to be perfect to win the race," Petitclerc said. "I couldn't allow myself any mistakes against Cheri. I was happy to have an inside lane so I could see the race in front of me and chase rather than be chased."