MONTREAL – Brianna Nelson of Victoria earned the spotlight on Saturday with a gold medal performance in the women’s S7 50-metre butterfly at the International Paralympic Committee Swimming World Championships.
It was the first big international win for the 20-year-old Nelson who made some noise last summer at the Paralympic Games with two silver medals.
‘’Fantastic, exciting,’’ exclaimed Nelson, who executes the stroke with one arm due to cerebral palsy which affects the right side of her body.
‘’You just have to trust yourself. I wanted to look over at the other lane but I knew that doing that could have potentially messed up my entire race. It wasn’t a race I was expecting to win, but I wanted to perform well. To get the gold on top of that is amazing.’’
Nelson broke her Canadian record for the win clocking 35.70 with Susannah Rodgers of Britain second in 36.76 and Nikita Howarth of New Zealand third in 37.34. Sarah Mehain of Vernon, B.C., was fifth in a personal best 38.38.
Canada was hoping for another medal in the men’s S10 100-m backstroke but multiple Paralympic champion Benoit Huot of Montreal was stunningly fourth in an incredibly close race which saw the top-four finish 0.78 seconds apart.
World record holder Justin Zook of the U.S. won the gold in 1:00.09, Andre Brasil of Brazil was second in 1:00.44 and Kardo Ploomipuu of Estonia third in 1:00.85. Huot followed in 1:00.87, the second fastest time of his career.
‘’It was a good race and I can’t be disappointed,’’ said Huot, the 200 IM champion earlier this week. ‘’I felt really good and I was confident.’’
Other Canadian finalists for the men were: Jean-Michel Lavalliere of Quebec City fifth in the S7 50-m butterfly, Nicolas-Guy Turbide of Quebec City and Devin Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., sixth and seventh in the S13 100-m backstroke, Zack McAllister of Lethbridge, Alta., seventh in the S8 100-m freestyle, and Danial Murphy of Halifax seventh in the S5 100-m freestyle.
Lavalliere and McAllister both set Canadian and Pan American records in their finals.
On the women’s side, Morgan Bird of Calgary was fourth and Camille Bérubé of Gatineau, Que., seventh in the S8 100-m freestyle and Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., fifth in the S10 100-freestyle. Rivard was vying for her fifth medal of the competition. Bird also set a Canadian record.
Canada now has 12 medals after six days of competition with four of each colour.
Competitors in classifications S1 through S10 have a physical limitation, while classifications S11 through S13 are for competitors with a visual impairment. A lower number indicates a more severe condition.
The event has attracted 480 swimmers from 55 countries and is the biggest gathering of para swimmers since London 2012. Competition ends Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau with preliminaries at 9 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.
Sportsnet One will be airing a 30-minute highlights package featuring Canada’s top performances in the pool. The shows will air at 11 p.m. ET from Tuesday through Monday, with the exception of Saturday (11:30 p.m. ET). TVA Sports will be presenting a daily show in French on its airwaves at 10 a.m. with an encore presentation at 2:30 p.m., from Tuesday through Monday.