LA MIRADA, California – Valérie Grand’Maison of Montreal is determined to produce an encore performance to her triple gold medal showing achieved at the 2008 Paralympics next year in London and took a first step towards that goal on Friday.
Grand’Maison posted victories in the women’s 50-metre freestyle and 200 individual medley at the Can Am Championships, an annual three-meet series pitting the top U.S., and Canadian para swimmers but now also attracting a strong international field. This weekend, for example, Brazil and Australia have sent their top teams.
”This was my first competition for this season (2011-12) and my expectations weren’t that high,” said Grand’Maison, 23, who competes in the S13 disability class for visually impaired. ”The times were a bit disappointing but this is a good way to launch the year.”
At the Beijing Paralympics, Grand’Maison was one of Canada’s biggest stars with three gold, including two in world record time, as well as a silver and a bronze.
”My goal for this year is to get back to the performances I had in 2008,” she said. ”I’ve put everything aside to focus on swimming so I can reach those goals. It’s very exciting to have that challenge and I plan to fight until the finish.”
Multiple Paralympic champion Benoit Huot of Montreal added a victory in the men’s 200 IM in the S10 category clocking a best in training time of 2:17.03. He also finished ahead of reigning Paralympic Games champion Rick Peddleton of Australia, who was second.
”It’s exciting to have that kind of performance when I’m in the midst of such a heavy training workload,” said Huot, a 16-time Paralympic medallist.
Competition ends Saturday.