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Richmond have athletes have struck gold in the pool. Walter Wu won top honors Saturday in the 100 metre butterfly and Sunday in the 200 individual medley. Marie-Claire Ross took bronze in the 100 Saturday and won the 200 Sunday and the 100 breaststroke Monday.
Richmond at the Paralympics
Review sports reporter Don Fennell
introduces you to the four athletes who are representing Richmond at the Atlanta Games.
Walter Wu began swimming at the age of seven with the Richmond Aquanauts. Today, at 24, he is one of the top visually impaired athletes in Canada and was named Sport BC's disabled athlete of the year in 1994 after setting or tying international records in four events at the world championships.
The current world record holder in the 200-metre individual medley (2:19.83) and 100-metre backstroke (1:05.55), Wu says the often-high humidity in Atlanta shouldn't be a problem.
"It hasn't been that hot this year. I was expecting temperatures around 120 (49 degrees Celsius) and it's only been in the low 90s (35 Celsius). Our training camp in Florida was hotter than this."
Wu thinks he has a good chance to either match or better his personal bests because the Olympic pool is "top notch." He hopes that will translate into top-three finishes (he's ranked top-three in the world rankings) in all six of his events, but he expects tough competition from European swimmers.
Wu is scheduled to compete in the 50, 100 and 400 metre freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.
A relative newcomer to British Columbia from London, Ontario, Marie-Claire Ross has been living in Richmond for 3 1/2 months. The 20-year-old visually impaired athlete recently set a world record in the women's 200 metre individual medley with a time of 2:36.99 at the national championships. She also set an international standard in the 100 breaststroke in 1:22.32 and took a third gold in the 100 butterfly.
Despite these achievements, Ross remains modest.
"I hope to set some personal bests," she acknowledges. "I'm favored to place first in the 100 breaststroke but in the other five events it will be tough to make the medal podium."
Ross has had past success in Atlanta though. At the 1995 international invitational she won gold in the 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley and was second in the 50 and 400 freestyles and the 100 backstroke. She won the Tim Vipont Award for outstanding disabled athlete in 1995.
Ross is scheduled to compete in the 50 and 100 metre freestyles, 100 backstroke, 100 and 200 breaststrokes, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.
Peggy Casey is a fighter. When she became legally blind in 1989 she was determined not to it become an obstacle and in 1990 joined the Richmond Lawn Bowling Club. During the next seven years she advanced from beginner status to the national team and is participating in her first Paralympic Games.
"I'd often passed the lawn bowls but never thought I could do that," she recalls. "But I heard BC Blind Sports had lawn bowling and thought I'd give it a try."
Both Casey, and Canadian lawn bowling is glad she did. At the 1992 BC Games for the Physically Disabled she won bronze in women's singles and later that year duplicated the feat at the nationals. In 1994 she and a partner won gold in the mixed pairs at the Canadians and she won silver in singles. She took home gold in the singles from the BC Games in 1995.
Casey also got her first taste of international competition at last year's Paralympic Committee World Lawn Bowling Championships in England. Later she won gold in both singles and mixed pairs at the Canadian finals.
Casey's "director" is Flo MccClellan. The director tells the blind bowler the distance and direction the bowl should be delivered towards the jack (the small white ball target).
Howard Cordick has only been active in lawn bowling for about five years, but has already established himself as one of Canada's elite. He's participated in provincial, national and international competitions and has helped BC maintain its dominance in lawn bowls play.
After a fourth-place finish in men's singles play at the 1995 worlds in England, Cordick returned to Canada for the national championships where he won silver in singles and mixed pairs. He also won silver in mixed pairs play at the BC Games for the Physically Disabled.
Cordick isn't sure what drew him to the game, but he believes he has a natural affinity - and ability - for sports.
"I like that feeling you get in your stomach when you're competing," he says.
And he's thrilled to representing Canada at the Paralympics.
"My goal is to represent Canada to the best of my athletic skills and bring back a medal. But if I don't get it this year I'll get it next time."
When he's not competing, Cordick, 51, is active as a regional representative on the board of directors of BC Blind Sports.
Cordick's "director" is Eric Ferguson.
Lawn bowling at the Atlanta Paralympic Games began Aug. 17 and will continue through Friday.
Richmond Kajaks set four national records last weekend at the Canadian masters track and field championships in Victoria.
Competing in five age groups, the local team returned with 16 medals. Becky Willis (45-49) won the high jump with a new Canadian standard of 1.55 metres and also took top honors in the long jump (4.50m) and the 80m hurdles (143. seconds). She was second in shot put (8.75m). Avril Douglas bettered the Canadian 50-54 age-group standard in the 100m (14.06 seconds) and 400m (1:03.52) and Hazel Cameron (70 to 74) improved her own national mark in the 400m in 1:29.78. She also won both the 800m (3:35.78) and 1500m (7:08.09). Other top-finishes were turned in by Louise Reed, Marnie McMillan, Shirley Smith, Charlie Loo and Jake Madderom.
Local athletes also shone at the national juvenile, junior and senior finals. Top-three finishers included Al Klassen - first 1500m (5:52.64) and Laurier Primeau - third 400m hurdles (51.50) in senior men's; Lori Durward - second 800m (16:16.78), Cindy O'Krane - third 1500m (4:28.03), Nuna Abashidze -first shotput (16.25m); Caroline Wittrin - second hammer throw (53.56m) and Signi MacNeil - javelin throw (50.78m) in senior women's; Shannon Swanson - first in hammer throw (37.86m) in juvenile women's; Garrett Collier - second hammer (48.06) and third discus (44.94m) and George Myshlyayev - second triple jump (13.95m) in junior men's; Jennifer Joyce - second hammer (42.72m) and Sarah McDiarmid - second high jump (1.73m) in junior women's.
After helping his zone team strike silver and the BC team gold, Richmond rugger Jeremy Hamm is hoping to complete a medal hat trick with Canada's under-17s.
Hamm has been invited to attend the national team training camp in Victoria Aug. 21 to 25. Along with another local Robbie Young, who scored two tries in the tournament, he was instrumental in BC posting a 4-0 mark at the recent western Canadians which included blanking Manitoba 38-0 and Saskatchewan 45-0 and then downing Alberta in back-to-back meetings 22-10 and 33-0.
Hamm's invite is a surprise considering he has only six months of rugby experience. But his Richmond High coach, Alan Smith, says he has a great desire to learn.
"He's fairly big and strength and speed are two big assets," Smith says.
Smith says he is pleased to see interest in rugby on the rise. But he deflects any credit for helping improve the level of play locally, explaining that if anything he's simply helped to ensure players are given more opportunities.
"Rugby is also getting a higher profile with Canada's presence at the World Cup," he said. "Canada plays a wide-open game and I think fans anywhere like to see a lot of scoring."
Richmond's under-19 team will host St. Edward's of Cheltenham, England in an exhibition tilt at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sea Island. This marks the third time in 13 months a school team from England has played here. Last August, Richmond (current Fraser Valley league champions) defeated both Bloxham and Rendcomb but St. Edward's is reputed to be a much superior side, Smith says. The local squad will include BC under-19 member Joe Dimayuga and Young from the BC under-17s.
For the first time since 1970, Richmond will represent BC at the national bantam baseball championships Aug. 22 to 27 in North Bay -but the team needs your financial support. Funds are required to help pay for hotel accommodations and airfare. The team's goal is to raise $12,000 for the trip. Call Allan at 241-3992 or Paul at 272-4328 for more information.
Richmond Raiders are offering try-outs to skilled players in preparation for the 1996-97 Richmond Senior Soccer League season. The Raiders are moving up to the premier division this year and management is hoping the newcomers will help augment the climb to the top table. Info: Jack at 277-5717 or Luis at 275-0245.
Richmond's Jeff Heer continues to shine on the water. The local water skier last weekend took fifth place with a score of 20,045 in the wakeboarding freestyle finals at Portland. In the wakeboarding expression session finals on Saturday, Heer was fourth with 3050 points. The event was the final stop of the nation-wide Cafe de Columbia Water Ski tour and Sea Doo Wakeboard Series.
The Canadian Intensive Care Foundation is holding a golf marathon Sept. 30 at Mayfair Lakes. Pre-register by Sept. 25 by fax (253-3307) or call 253-3307 for more information, Play will be limited to the first 144 players to sign up.
Fraser Valley Rugby was forced to cancel a day-long coaching and teaching clinic for developmental players because of poor interest, said U-23 manager Malcolm Turnbull. He said the session involved some of Canada's most successful coaches with invitations sent out to close to 200 players.