Elite Amateur Sport Para Sport Rugby

Dagenais, wheelchair rugby team win silver

Patrice Dagenais and Canada’s wheelchair rugby team celebrating a heart-stopping one-point win in the semi-finals – the first time they beat the U.S. in 8 years – en route to winning Paralympic silver. Photo: Dan Plouffe

By Ian Ewing

LONDON – Patrice Dagenais brought home his first Paralympic medal on the final day of competition, only hours before attending a spectacular closing ceremony featuring Coldplay, Rihanna, and Jay-Z.

The wheelchair rugby team fell to an unbeaten Australian juggernaut 66-51 in the gold medal game Sunday afternoon, but won a hard-earned silver medal in the effort.

The team appeared outclassed from the start, and fell behind 18-11 after the first quarter. The Aussies never looked back, winning each subsequent quarter and dominating play en route to the gold medal they were favoured to win.

Team Canada fought their way into the gold medal game by defeating the world #1-ranked United States in their semi-final on Saturday, Sept. 8. Canada exploded out of the gate to take a dominant 16-9 lead after eight minutes, before hanging on for a heart-stopping 50-49 victory. The U.S. actually tied the game in the final minute, but a crucial turnover allowed the Canadians to run the clock out and score with 0.5 seconds remaining for the win and the berth in the gold medal game.

“It was a bit scary,” Dagenais admitted after the semi, “but we had the momentum all throughout the game, and we were confident we could beat them. It was just a matter of executing.”

Read Patrice Dagenais’s Ottawa at the Paralympics Profile: Accident opens door for Dagenais to compete at highest level

The squad had also lost to Australia in their opening game of the tournament, 64-52. Although they hoped to maintain their intensity and momentum from the U.S. game into the final, the powerful Australian squad proved too much.

The Canadians had been able to create and capitalize on numerous turnovers in the semi-final, building a lead that the US could not overcome. Dagenais, a well-known athlete from Embrun, saw a little over four minutes of pressure-filled court time in the intense, physical affair.

“When we play Canadian rugby, that’s how we play,” the business marketing grad noted. “We play with fire, and it works when we do that.”

On Sunday, however, the Australians were the team creating turnovers. Dagenais saw over eight minutes of playing time as Canadian coach Kevin Orr sought to blunt the Australian attack with different looks, but nothing Canada tried seemed to help.

“Obviously we wanted gold, but we got silver, and we’re happy,” the Ottawa Stinger reflected. “I loved this. There’s no way I’m quitting this sport right now!”

This story was named the #10 moment in our list of Ottawa Athletes’ Top-10 International Multi-Sport Games Triumphs.

Follow this countdown and others in our OTTAWA SPORTS PAGES TOP-10’S FOR 10 series on our 10th Anniversary Headquarters webpage.

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