Top three athletes in running for Canadian flag bearer for Beijing Paralympic Games named

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OTTAWA – The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) today announced that boccia player Paul Gauthier, wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc and swimmer Donovan Tildesley have been chosen as the three finalists for Canada’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

“It’s a great honour to be in the top three as a potential flag bearer for Canada.

In such great company, I’ll be proud of whoever has the privilege to represent the team,” said Petitclerc, nominated again after carrying the flag during the Closing Ceremony at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. “The Paralympic Movement is getting stronger and stronger every four years, and we are sending a competitive team again this year. Entering the Bird’s Nest will be an amazing experience.”

The flag bearer will lead the Canadian team into the Beijing National Stadium, which has been nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, during the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games on September 6.

“If I were chosen flag bearer, it would almost be more of an honour than winning a Paralympic medal,” said Tildesley.

Gauthier was equally excited being in the top three, calling it an honour and saying being “part of an amazing Canadian contingent is always a thrill.”

Gauthier, the defending Paralympic and World champion in the BC3 boccia singles competition, will be competing in his fourth Paralympic Games. The athlete with cerebral palsy earned Canada’s first gold medal in boccia at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.

Beijing will be Petitclerc’s fifth and last Paralympic Games. Throughout her racing career, she has dominated at the national and international level. She won 10 gold, four silver and two bronze medals at the last four Paralympic Games.

Tildesley, a swimmer with a visual impairment, is a world record holder who continually gives back to the community. He too plans to retire after Beijing.

“What better way to cap an eight-year run with the national swim team than to represent Canada, not only in the pool but also as flag bearer,” he said.

Canada is sending a team of 143 athletes to the Beijing Paralympic Games.

“With the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Paralympic Games just around the corner, excitement is building,” said Canadian team Chef de Mission Debbie Low. “Our Canadian athletes have trained for years for the upcoming Paralympic Games, and our coaches, doctors and other Mission staff will be behind them every step of the way. We invite all Canadians to join us in cheering on Canada’s Paralympians as they take on the world in Beijing.”

The announcement came the day after the Olympic Games closed, and Beijing began to prepare for the Paralympic Games, running September 6 to 17 at the same venues.

The flag bearer will be announced during a special team pep rally on September 4 in Beijing.

About the Canadian Paralympic Committee
The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is a non-profit, charitable, private organization that is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The CPC delivers programs that strengthen the Paralympic Movement in Canada, including sending Canadian teams to the Paralympic Games. The CPC empowers persons with physical disabilities, through sport, at all levels. For more information, visit www.paralympic.ca.

Information:
Norma Reveler, Canadian Paralympic Committee, T. 613-569-4333 ext. 227, norma@paralympic.ca.

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