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PARALYMPICS

Canadian's 800 Victory Holds Up

October 25, 2000|From Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — Wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc's victory in the 800-meter final was recognized Tuesday by the Court of Arbitration for Sports, which overruled a decision by Paralympic officials to hold the race again.

The Canadian crossed the line in Sunday's final ahead of Louise Sauvage, ending the Australian's eight-year unbeaten run on the track.

But race officials nullified the result and ordered a new race based on a protest from a Japanese competitor who had been entangled in a collision at the rear of the pack approaching the 200-meter turn.

Canadian officials appealed, contending the pileup had no impact on the medal placings.

"I'm thrilled," Petitclerc said. "This is a proud moment for me. I'm glad to see that fair play has prevailed."

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A human-powered version of demolition derby, wheelchair rugby is the only contact sport in the Paralympics and makes its full-medal debut today.

Reggie Richner, of San Leandro, Calif., the coach of the top-ranked U.S. team, said he expects it will pull a big crowd in Australia, home of the world champions of able-bodied rugby and a land where collisions on the field of play are worshipped.

Wheelchair rugby is the fastest-growing international wheelchair sport, with more than 22 nations competing regularly and others showing interest. Eight teams qualified, with the U.S. favored after winning every major international tournament to date.

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