Routliffe highlights night with gold at Para Swimming World Championships
MANCHESTER, England – Tess Routliffe won her second gold while Nicholas Bennett and Abi Tripp each added silver Wednesday at the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships.
After three days of the seven-day competition, Canada has five gold, two silver and two bronze. That’s already half the total from last year’s intake at the worlds in Portugal.
In addition, Canada has landed seven quota spots so far for the Paralympic Games in Paris, still over a year away. A top-two finish here is worth a quota spot.
It was a Canadian showdown in the women’s SB7 100-m breaststroke with Routliffe prevailing in 1:31.91 to successfully defend her title. It was the exact same time the swimmer from Caledon, Ont. posted at last year’s worlds and is the Canadian record.
Tripp, a two-time Paralympian from Kingston, Ont., led at the turn and struck silver in 1:34.39, her first individual medal at worlds. Nahia Zudaire Borrezo of Spain was third at 1:38.14.
“There’s still room for improvement but I’m really happy with where I’m at,” said Routliffe, also the 200 IM winner on Monday. “I was so happy Abi was there in the lane next to me because we both love racing each other and we really push each other.”
Routliffe, 24, trailed Tripp at the split but she delivered a tremendous finish to pull ahead of her teammate. Since missing the Tokyo Paralympic Games due to a back injury, Routliffe has been unstoppable.
“I was ready for Tokyo then I had that injury two months before,” she recalled. “I had never been more ready than for those Games and show what I was capable of. So that fire has just kept burning for two years.”
Tripp, 22, admitted she’s had her challenges in the past in the 100 breaststroke. She didn’t race the event last year and was disqualified at the Tokyo Games.
“The focus tonight was to stay in the moment and trust in what I have done to get prepared for this race,” she said. “I had my teammate right beside me and that gave me that boost that I needed to have that confidence and that made a world of difference.”
The men’s SB14 100 breaststroke was equally exciting as Naohide Yamaguchi of Japan took the title in a championship record 1:03.71. Bennett, from Parksville, B.C., clocked a Canadian and Americas record 1:04.41 for second, and Jake Michel of Australia was third in 1:04.62.
Bennett, 19, appeared to be closing the gap on Yamaguchi on that final thrilling length before the Japanese swimmer found an extra little push to touch the wall first.
“I’m closing the gap on him little by little on every swim so we’ll see what will happen for Paris next year,” said Bennett, the 200 freestyle winner on Monday. “It was an amazing swim for me. The first 50 felt quite good, the last 25 I was just fighting tooth and nail just for the placement.”
Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., with one gold so far, was first in the women’s S10 400 freestyle heats but withdrew for the final.
“Aurélie Rivard had to pull out of the 400-m free S10 final for personal reasons that required her immediate attention,” said Canada’s head coach Mike Thompson. “She is well supported by the team and will regroup and get ready for the rest of her championships.”
Thompson is overjoyed with Canada’s performances so far this week.
‘’It’s passion that unites us as a team,’’ he said. ‘’Witnessing our athletes’ consistent greatness through this competition fills my heart with pride and reminds me that hard work and dedication truly make waves of difference
‘’Tonight was another great example of the state of this team. I want to call attention to Tess Routliffe’s gold medal and Nick Bennett’s silver and the Americas Record. Huge congrats goes to Abi Tripp who pulled out her silver medal with a great performance! Abi was able to overcome a disturbance in her training earlier in the week and was able to make her mark on this team as well.
‘’Inspiration from inspired performances! These guys came to play!’’
In the preliminaries, 17-year-old Katie Cosgriffe of Oakville, Ont., the sole newcomer on the 20-member Canadian team, ranked 13th in the women’s S10 400 freestyle.
Viewers can catch all the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships action live as all heats and finals sessions will be livestreamed on the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Sports App for iOS and Android devices.
Radio-Canada Sports is also airing the finals every day from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. ET on its app and at radio-canada.ca/sports.