The Canadian team at the Beijing Paralympics is urging officials to improve communication after a crash and a three-country protest forced Diane Roy to hand over her gold medal earned in the women's 5,000-metre wheelchair race Monday.
"It's unacceptable that our athlete was presented with the gold medal when the results of the race were not yet official," Canadian team Chef de Mission Debbie Low said. "We have urged BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committe for the Olympic Games) and the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) to improve communication between the personnel handling protests and those running the medal ceremonies."
Tracey Ferguson of Holland Landing suffered some minor equipment damage and injury to her arm in the six-athlete crash, but will continue to compete in both athletics and wheelchair basketball at these Games. She's the only Canadian athlete to star in two sports at the same Paralympics.
The rescheduling of the 5,000-metre race to Friday means it falls on the same day as the women's basketball quarterfinals.
"It makes it a little bit messier, but it still works well, with the basketball in the afternoon," said Ferguson, 34, a veteran basketball player competing at her fifth Paralympic Games. "It'll be a crazy day but a very doable day."
This is Ferguson's first time competing in track and field at the Paralympics. The group crash, a rare occurrence in women's racing, happened just 500 metres before the finish line. Roy avoided the accident as she had moved to the side to pass on the final lap. Ferguson couldn't get away from the pile up.
"I was just chomping at the bit to go in the bell lap," Ferguson said. "I felt like I was going to have a great kick. [Then] it was carnage everywhere. Up to that point, I was having a great race."
In wheelchair basketball, Canada, the reigning world champion, lost 55-52 to Japan yesterday. The team defeated the Netherlands 59-32 on Sunday.
Canada won gold in wheelchair basketball at three consecutive Paralympic Games (1992-2000), but dropped to third at Athens in 2004. The U.S. won the 2004 Paralympics and is expected be Canada's top competition for gold this time. Australia also is strong, having won silvers in both 2004 and 2000.