Women’s wheelchair basketball team remains optimistic despite gold-medal game loss to U.S.

The United States women’s wheelchair basketball team defeated Canada 62-56 to win Parapan Am Games gold and in the process earned a berth to the Paralympics next summer in Paris.

For the Americans, it’s sweet redemption having lost the title game to the Canadians four years ago.

For Canada, while the loss was disappointing, the team is already looking forward to a last-chance qualifier.

WATCH | U.S. wins gold over Canada:

SILVER MEDAL: Canada falls to U.S. in Parapan Am Games women’s wheelchair basketball final

Featured VideoThe United States defeats Canada 62-56 in the women’s wheelchair basketball gold medal game at the Parapan American Games and secures a place at the Paris 2024 Paralympics.

“I’m just really fortunate to be here and have the teammates I do. Losing is a bitter pill to swallow but I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. They’re like sisters to me,” Arinn Young said.

“We still have a repechage tournament to qualify for Paris. We have to look forward and we’re going to win it. We have so much to prove and nothing to lose. I’m ready to win this.”

For the first few minutes of the game both teams tried to find their rhythm on offence but couldn’t get much going. They traded a couple scores, and then followed it up with a few misses.

It appeared there were some nerves on both sides with so much at stake.

With 1:34 left in the first quarter, Canadian superstar Kady Dandeneau, who led the team to victory at the last Games, entered the game for the first time with the score 14-8 USA.

Dandeneau, who was a difference maker four years ago in the championship game, missed her first couple of shots and was blanketed every possession by the American defenders.

Both teams brought undefeated records into the title game — they’ve met in important moments so many times in the past and once again for themselves locked in a battle to claim Parapan Am Games gold in Santiago.

The Canadians started mounting a charge with Dandeneau and Arinn Young on the floor together.

Canada immediately cut down the USA lead from six to two points and kept the pressure on.

The Canadians had a chance to take the lead after tying the game at 22, but Young just missed. USA immediately responded with a couple of quick baskets to take a four point lead.

The United States would add one more basket at the buzzer to take a six-point lead into halftime, 28-22.

The Americans hit a long two right as the buzzer sounded to finish the third quarter, increasing their lead to 11.

With a huge crowd of Chileans cheering for Canada the team never quit, fighting until the final buzzer.

“We had a lot of easy shots that just didn’t drop. Our defence wasn’t exactly tight the way it should be. To be honest it just fuels the fire. We’ll get them in Paris. I know we’re a better team than them,” Dandeneau said after the game.

She finished the game with 19 points and 21 rebounds.

“I know we’re a better team than we played today. We’ll get them in Paris.”

A massive crowd chanted throughout the match, trying to rally the Canadians. The team fed off that energy and were grateful for their support.

“I’m speechless. You have a full stadium chanting Canada. They’re rooting for you to win from the bottom of their heart and it just means the absolute most to us to Canadians that we have another country on our side,” Young said.

“Thank you to all of them. It really touched our hearts.”

Dandeneau echoed her teammates’ sentiments regarding the crowd.

“Every time I’ve been in South American the crowds have been the best,” she said.

“It made me feel better when they were chanting Canada after we lost. I really wished we could have pulled it out for them.”

The Canadians were playing with heavy hearts — playing for their teammate who isn’t in Santiago. 

A month ago, longtime national team member Maude Jacques died suddenly at the beginning of October.

The 31-year-old’s death sent a shockwave across throughout the program and the country’s sporting community.

Every player on the team has a shirt with the No. 9 on the back. They wore the shirts on the way to their games throughout the competition in Santiago.

And many of the players also had her No. 9 written on their arms for the gold medal game.

“Honestly, I’m kind of just thinking about Maude right now,” Young said, fighting back tears after the loss. “I wish she was here.”

They’ll carry her spirit with them on this next chapter as they try to qualify for Paris.

“She was always the loudest person and she loved being here playing. She was a great presence to have,” Dandeneau said.

Women’s goalball wins gold, berth to Paris

After the final buzzer sounded, teammates piled on veteran Amy Burk, the joy evident in their celebration.

Burk scored once while Emma Reinke added a hat trick as Canada’s women’s goalball team beat the U.S. 4-3 to win the Parapan Am Games gold medal — and qualify for the Paris Paralympics in the process.

“Oh baby it’s sweet,” Burk told CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux after the game. “This team has worked so hard. The Americans brought it, but we hung on. … There’s not much to say. We left everything out there.”

Athletes piles on each other.
Members of Canada’s women’s goalball team celebrate after beating the U.s. 4-3 to win the Parapan Am Games title on Friday in Santiago, Chile. (@Devin_Heroux/Twitter)

A tight match throughout, Canada found a way to edge the two-time defending silver medallist Americans after eliminating Brazil, which had won each of the previous two titles, in the semis.

Burk, the 33-year-old from Charlottetown, has competed for Team Canada since 2008, but hasn’t won a major international medal for over a decade.

WATCH | Canada downs U.S. in women’s goalball final:

GOLD MEDAL: Canadian women edge Americans to claim Parapan Am goalball gold

Featured VideoEmma-Leigh Reinke scored a hat-trick, including two successful penalty conversions, and Canada hung on for a 4-3 victory in the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games women’s goalball gold medal final. The win also gives Canada a berth at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

And so Friday’s victory in Santiago, Chile, was a long time coming for the veteran, who is now set to compete at her fifth consecutive Paralympics.

Athletes in goalball have visual impairments. Teams of three must track a ball thrown by their opponents that has bells inside of it and keep it from going into their net.

Against the Americans, Canada took an early 2-0 lead, only to see the score tied up by halftime. A second-half surge put Canada back in the driver’s seat up 4-2 before the U.S. replied to cut its deficit to one with about more than five minutes remaining.

That gave way to a tense finish, but Canada held strong to claim the title — despite the American coach’s pleas to officials after the game was already over.

“These are the moments that we want to embrace and these are the games we want to play in,” Burk said. “And to just come out as Parapan Am Games champions and a ticket to Paris, it’s just icing on the cake.”

Pemble, Hayward lead 4-medal haul in cycling

Canadian Para cyclists continued to pile up medals in Chile with four in the track competition on Friday at the Velódromo Estadio Nacional.

Mel Pemble of Victoria, B.C., captured Canada’s first medal of the day with gold against American Jamie Whitmore in the women’s C1-3 3,000-metre individual pursuit final.

WATCH | Pemble surges late to capture cycling gold on Day 7:

GOLD MEDAL: Victoria’s Mel Pemble captures 3,000m C1-3 individual pursuit Parapan Am title

Featured VideoMel Pemble of Victoria, B.C., roars back to win the gold medal in the women’s 3,000-metre C1-3 individual pursuit at the Parapan American Games in Santiago.

For the majority of the race, Whitmore looked to be cruising to an easy victory, increasing her lead to 2.595 seconds at the 2,000m-mark.

Not to be denied, Pemble executed a late push to overtake her opposition with a final time of 4 minutes, 10.103 seconds — just 0.109 ahead of Whitmore.

The gold marks the second medal in as many days for the 23-year-old after also taking silver in the women’s C1-5 500m individual time trial on Thursday.

Alexandre Hayward of Quispamsis, N.B., followed suit when he took down Alejandro Perea Arango in the men’s C1 3,000m individual pursuit final for his third medal — and second gold — at the 2023 Parapan Am Games.

It was a comfortable victory for Hayward, topping his Colombian counterpart by 5.849 seconds with a 3:26.642 time.

WATCH | Hayward wins his 2nd gold medal of 2023 Parapan Am Games:

GOLD MEDAL: New Brunswick’s Alex Hayward claims 2nd gold of Parapan Am Games

Featured VideoAlex Hayward of Quispamsis, N.B., wins gold in the men’s 3,000-metre C1-3 individual pursuit for his third medal at the Parapan American Games in Santiago. Hayward topped the podium in the men’s C1-5 time trial on Sunday then won bronze in the C1-5 1,000m individual time trial on Thursday.

The 26-year-old also won bronze in the C1-5 1,000m individual time trial on Thursday, as well as gold in the C1-5 individual time trial in Para cycling road competition earlier in the week.

Calgary’s Michael Sametz — who placed third in the C1-5 individual time trial in the road competition — joined Hayward on the podium again after defeating Colombia’s Esneider Muñoz in the bronze-medal race on Friday.

Keely Shaw won the 10th total Para cycling medal for Canada in Santiago — four in road, six in track — by taking silver in the women’s C4-5 3,000m individual pursuit final against American Samantha Bosco.

The Midale, Sask., native finished 1.253 seconds back of Bosco’s winning time of 3:45.752.

Para cycling action wraps up on Saturday with a return to road events.

Shaw claims silver in wheelchair tennis

A dramatic wheelchair tennis final resulted in silver for Canada’s Rob Shaw.

Shaw, the defending Parapan Am Games champion, fell in three sets (3-6, 7-5, 4-6) to Chile’s Francisco Cayulef.

The clay-court men’s quad singles match, played in scorching heat, featured plenty of back and forth. At different points, Shaw, a co-flag-bearer at the opening ceremony for Canada, fought off match point in the second set and fended off Cayulef while serving for the match in the final set. 

But the Chilean, with the home crowd behind him, was able to regroup and break Shaw moments later to clinch the victory.

The competitors embraced at the net soon after the thrilling match ended.

WATCH | Shaw bested in gritty 3-set wheelchair tennis final, claims silver:

SILVER MEDAL: Canada’s Shaw settles for silver in wheelchair tennis final at Parapan Am Games

Featured VideoMen’s singles wheelchair tennis gold medal went to Chile’s Francisco Cayulef 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 after an epic three set battle with Canada’s Rob Shaw who settled for the silver medal at the 2023 Parapan Am Games in Santiago, Chile.

Shaw, the 33-year-old from North Bay, Ont., was the first Canadian to win a multi-sport medal in singles competition when he took gold four years ago.

He’s now repeated the feat, rebounding from a Round of 16 loss at the Tokyo Paralympics to do it.

Men’s wheelchair basketball team topped in semis

Meanwhile, Canada’s men’s wheelchair basketball team will not get its desired rematch against the U.S.

The Canadian squad fell 64-53 to Colombia in the semifinals, dousing hope of a third straight gold-medal final against the Americans. Canada lost each of the previous two in 2015 in Toronto and in 2019 in Lima.

Instead, it will be Colombia, which took bronze in 2019, vying for gold on Saturday.

The South American side took control of the game with a dominant second quarter, outscoring the Canadians 20-7 thanks to 75 per cent shooting in the frame. Canada, meanwhile, made just two of its 15 attempts in the quarter.

WATCH | Highlights from Friday’s early action:

Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games: Day 7 early highlights

Featured VideoWatch some of the best performances from the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games.

It was more of the same in the third quarter, with the Canadians continuing to connect on open looks as Colombia opened a 16-point lead. 

Canada cut its deficit to seven points late in the fourth quarter to make things interesting, but it proved too little, too late.

Patrick Anderson, competing in his final Paralympic cycle, paced Canada with 22 points to go with 12 rebounds and four assists.

The Americans beat Argentina 88-54 in the other semifinal. Canada’s women’s team will battle the U.S. for gold later Friday.

Elsewhere in team sports, Canada’s men’s goalball team won bronze with a 6-2 victory over Argentina.

Blair Nesbitt of Stony Plain, Alta., led Canada with three goals.

Also, Toronto’s Jesse Zesseu claimed his second medal of these Games, landing bronze in the men’s T37/38 long jump.

Zesseu, 24, leapt 5.78 metres to reach the podium. Argentina’s Brian Impellizzeri won gold with a jump of 6.65 metres.

The Canadian previously earned silver in the discus throw.

“It feels really good,” Zesseu told the Canadian Paralympic Committee. “This one, I didn’t really know how I was gonna do. Came out and first jump and got a three-centimetre [personal best]. So we knew it was in the tank, but we didn’t know if we could do it. And we did it.”

Renee Foessel of Orangeville, Ont., added another medal in Para athletics with a bronze of her own in the women’s F38 discus.

Foessel, the 28-year-old world record holder, launched a throw of 35.01 metres to reach the podium. 

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