Canada defeated archival United States in a wheelchair rugby thriller to highlight a big day in team sports on Tuesday at the 2023 Parapan Am Games.
Zak Madell of Okotoks, Alta., scored 30 tries as Canada surged into the wheelchair rugby semifinals with a 46-41 win over the top-ranked U.S.
Canada’s women’s basketball and women’s goalball teams also produced big results, while its track athletes picked up three silver medals.
In wheelchair rugby, Canada finished the preliminary round at 5-0 after successfully facing its toughest test yet at the Games.
The U.S., which entered the preliminary-round finale for both teams at 4-0, led 12-11 after the first period. But Canada took its first lead of the game when Madell scored three seconds before halftime to put the Canadians up 23-22.
Canada maintained a slim lead throughout much of the third quarter before pulling away in the fourth. Mike Whitehead of Windsor, Ont., scored his third try of the game to cap Canada’s scoring and secure the win.
“‘The last quarter was our best quarter of the tournament,”' said Madell. “‘We’re a grinding team so we knew if we toughed it out in that first half and we kept on them the turnovers would start to come.”'
Cody Caldwell of Peterborough, Ont., (five tries), Trevor Hirschfeld of Parksville, B.C., (three) and Toronto’s Rio Kanda Kovac (one) rounded out the scoring for Canada.
Sarah Adam led the U.S. with 20 tries.
“‘The U.S. is a great team and if you’re not coming in focused they’ll roll over you,” said Hirschfield, the Canadian captain. “’We came out, followed our game plan and we were ready. We saw what’s working, where we had successes, and we got a bunch of different guys on the court.
“‘We’re going to take a lot from this game.”
Canada will face Brazil in Wednesday’s semifinals. The medal games are on Thursday.
In women’s wheelchair basketball, Canada defeated Colombia 71-25 to complete a sweep of its group stage games.
Arinn Young of Legal, Alta., and Kady Dandeneau of Pender Island, B.C., each had 18 points to pace Canada.
Rosalie Lalonde of Saint Clet, Que., added 12 points, six assists and three rebounds, while Cindy Ouellet of Quebec City chipped in seven points, eight assists and five rebounds.
“It feels really good to get a sweep in our pool,” said team member Tara Llanes of North Vancouver, B.C. “I felt like we were playing as a team, we’re moving the ball — the rookies got in there, got in some good minutes. Just trying to prepare for what’s ahead and focus on that.”
Canada will play the loser of a match between Argentina and the United States in the semifinals Thursday. The tournament winner qualifies for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.
In goalball, Emma Reinke of St. Thomas, Ont., had seven goals as Canada thumped Chile 10-1.
Canada finished second in its group at 2-1 and will face Mexico in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
On the track, Liam Stanley of Victoria took the silver medal in the men’s T38 1,500 metres in a time of four minutes 13.60 seconds, 0.98 seconds behind Leo Merle VI of the United States. Bronze medallist Jhonier Gomez of Colombia was well back of the front-runners in 4:26.15.
Toronto’s Jesse Zesseu was second in the men’s F37 discus with a throw of 52.32 metres.
Colombia’s Edwars Varela won with a Parapan Am-record throw of 52.68 metres. Brazil’s Joao Teixeira was third with 47.95 metres.
Michael Barber of Victoria was second in the men’s T20 1,500 metres in 4:11.99. Samuel Guarin of Colombia won in 4:10.71 and Carmelo Rivera of Puerto Rico was third in 4:13.36.
Canada is assured of at least four boccia medals in the individual tournament following the conclusion of semifinal play on Tuesday, with three players advancing into gold-medal matches.
Allison Levine scored four points in the first end en route to a 7-2 triumph over Mexico’s Karla Manuel in the women’s BC4 semifinals.
Lance Cryderman, in men’s BC1, won 5-2 over Bermuda’s Omar Hayward to reach the gold-medal game, buoyed by a score of four points in the second end.
Danik Allard advanced to the men’s BC2 final with a 7-2 win over El Salvador’s Mario Sayes.
Marco Dispaltro and Iulian Ciobanu both fell in their semifinals matches in the men’s BC4 tournament, and will now face each other for bronze. Also playing for bronze will be Kristyn Collins, who lost 5-0 to El Salvador’s Rebeca Duarte in the women’s BC2 semifinals.
Rob Shaw made it through to the quad singles wheelchair tennis semifinals after a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Chile’s Diego Perez.
Canada sits in 10th in the medal standings after remaining at three gold, but upped its total to 15 overall medals.
Brazil maintained its spot atop the standings with 67 gold and 155 total medals. The U.S., with 20 gold and 61 overall medals, and Colombia, with 17 gold and 63 total medals, are second and third, respectively.