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Team Canada took 4 medals on Day 1 of the 2023 Parapan American Games

Canucks take 2 golds and 2 bronzes to open up competition

Paralympic athlete Alexandre Hayward rescues senior after a fall Photo by: Oscar Muñoz Badilla/Getty Images

Team Canada’s road para-cyclists delivered an impressive performance on the inaugural day of racing in Calles de Isla de Maipo, CHE, at the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games on Nov. 19. Securing two gold medals and two bronze medals, Alexandre Hayward, 26, of Quispamsis, N.B., and Mike Sametz, 27, of Calgary, Alta., stood atop the podium in the men’s C1-5 category. Racing under the intense sun and fueled by the enthusiasm of the Chilean crowd, they completed two laps of the 10km course with times of 26:21.14m and 27:25.14m, respectively. Brazil’s Lauro Cesar Moro claimed the bronze, finishing 44.92s behind Hayward.

“Mikey and I spent a week together in Bromont leading up to this,” Hayward said. “We’ve kind of been joking around that it would be nice to stand on the podium together and I think to do it on the first day is pretty special. This was a unique time trial. Usually when you leave the start-finish area the fans sort of die off a bit but they were all over the course, which made it a lot of fun.”

In a mixed start that combined men and women in the T1-T2 categories, reigning world champion Nathan Clement, 29, of West Vancouver, B.C., and Paralympian Shelley Gautier, 55, of Niagara Falls, Ont., left it all on the course. With a time of 15:44.73m, Clement came out on top, finishing 1:29m ahead of Dale Connors of the United States. Colombia’s Juan Betancourt took third place with a time of 17:46.71m while Gautier finished fifth with a time of 18:42.12m.

“Being here, hearing the crowd of everyone here has been absolutely amazing,” Clement said. “The loud noise all throughout the course, even riding the course yesterday and seeing the mountains in the distance was absolutely breathtaking.”

National team coach Phil Abbott was pleased with the first day , “We came here to test out a couple of things and see what Nathan could do, I think today’s been really exciting and there’s hopefully a bright future for the rest of the season as we head into Paris and get prepared for that.”

Rio 2016 Paralympic medallist Charles Moreau, 41, of Victoriaville, Que., secured the bronze in the men’s H1-H5 category with a time of 31:46.65m, trailing 27.60s behind the winner, Eric Ryan Pinney of the United States. Joining them on the podium was silver medallist Brandon Lyons (+19.28s), also from the United States.

“Most of the time, I visualize race situations and I visualize the stronger runners I have ahead of me that I need to catch,” Moreau said. “When it’s harder, I tend to think about the people at home. We spend a lot of time away from home, away from family, so often it’s an extra source of motivation, to tell yourself that you’re making sacrifices for them and it’s affecting them too, so you push even harder.”

In a strong ride, 29-year-old Paralympian Keely Shaw from Saskatoon, Sask., finished in fourth place with a time of 15:34.08, just 0.6s behind the bronze medal won by Daniela Carolia Munevar of Colombia. Gold and silver medals went to Samanta Bosco (15:08.01m) and Jamie Whitmore (15:29.13m), both from the USA. Mel Pemble, 23, from Victoria, B.C., also took part in the event. She finished in seventh place, with a time of 16:55.52m.