Dorris adds to Canada’s medal haul, claims 100 back silver
TOKYO – The Canadian swimming team reached the podium for the fifth time in six days at the Paralympic Games thanks to a silver medal performance by Danielle Dorris in the women’s 100-m backstroke S7 Monday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Canada’s medal haul at the pool with four days left in the competition now stands at five, including one gold, two silver and a pair of bronze.
Competing in her second Games at only 18 years of age, Dorris had come inches away from reaching her first career Paralympic podium on Friday when she was out-touched by five hundredths of a second in the 200 individual medley.
Three days later, she wouldn’t be denied. And it took a Paralympic record swim to prevent her from capturing gold.
“It feels very surreal,” said Dorris, who finished 15th in the 100 back S8 at Rio 2016, where she was the youngest member of the entire Canadian delegation. “I feel like I’m going to wake up from a dream back home in Canada and this has never happened. But here I am with a medal.”
The Moncton, N.B., native built an early lead thanks to a strong underwater start and was first at the turn in 38.22, just ahead of Mallory Weggemann of the United States (38.84).
The American came back down the stretch to win the race in 1:21.27, with Dorris clocking a personal best 1:21.91 to hold off world record holder Julia Gaffney of the USA (1:22.02) and claim second place.
“My game plan was really just to use my strength to my advantage, which is really the dive and the underwater aspect of the race, as well as on the turn,” said Dorris, who trains at Club de natation Bleu et Or in her hometown. “Being the only swimmer in that race with no leg impairment, I was able to use that to my advantage. That was my main goal, to not kill my legs on the way back.”
Swimming in lane 2 next to Dorris, fellow Canadian Camille Bérubé of Gatineau, Que., finished fifth in 1:25.04.
It marked the third final in four days for the three-time Paralympian from Natation Gatineau, who placed fifth in Friday’s 200 IM S7 and eighth in the 100 breaststroke SB6 on Saturday.
“That was amazing. I’m so proud of her,” said Bérubé. “I knew she could do it. I was really thrilled to be able to swim right next to her. She had a phenomenal swim. She went out like a bullet.
“My own race was ok. I was really hoping to be faster. I was aiming for a best time tonight and that didn’t happen. I think I’m definitely getting tired. This is the fifth time that I raced this week. I have one more race tomorrow and then two days off. It’ll be nice to be up in the stands and cheer for my teammates.”
Dorris and Bérubé will go head-to-head once again on the last day of the meet, Friday, in the 50 butterfly S7.
“I want a best time. I think it’s very possible. I had a best time tonight so I want to build off of that and hopefully have a very good swim,” said Dorris, who set the Canadian record of 34.38 in the event on July 3 at the Atlantic Cup in Saint John, N.B.
Two other Canadians were competing on Day 6.
Nikita Ens (Saskatoon Lasers Swim Club) of Meadow Lake, Sask., and Aly Van Wyck-Smart (Variety Village) of Toronto placed ninth and 14th, respectively, in the heats of the women’s 100 freestyle S3 with times of 2:32.26 and 2:49.59.
Ens’ performance was a personal best.
Wayne Lomas, Swimming Canada’s Associate High Performance Director and National Para Swimming Coach, was once again proud of the team’s overall performance.
“As we pass the halfway mark of this ten-day meet, I reflect on the final messages that our team discussed just before the Games commenced, and that is the importance of sticking to the plan and giving your best. Today, Camille and Danielle once again gave everything and left nothing to chance. Danielle achieved a two-second personal best and, because of her effort and execution of the plan, won her first Paralympic medal. Special congratulations to Danielle’s home coach and Canadian Paralympic Team coach Ryan Allen, who has played a pivotal role in her achievement.
“I’m also happy to see Niki continue swimming PBs. As a relative newcomer to our sport, and a first-time Paralympian, she has shown her potential to improve and I’m sure that she will be in an even better position to contest finals next year. Similarly, Aly has gained so much from her maiden Paralympic Games and, like so many of our swimmers, will take this experience with her into Paris 2022.”
Full schedule and results: