Levine wins boccia gold, wheelchair rugby team to play for gold at Parapan Am Games

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SANTIAGO, Chile — Alison Levine led a four-medal day in boccia with a gold medal, while Canada’s wheelchair rugby team advanced to the final with a win over Brazil on Wednesday at the 2023 Parapan American Games.

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Montreal’s Levine defeated Colombia’s Leidy Chica 4-2 in a close final to win the women’s BC4 individual title.

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Canadian athletes added another three medals in the precision ball-throwing sport, with Lance Cryderman of Sudbury, Ont., and Danik Allard of Bois-des-Filion, Que., claiming silver medals and Montreal’s Iulian Ciobanu picking up bronze.

Meanwhile, Canada defeated Brazil 60-45 to advance to the wheelchair rugby final and a rematch with the top-ranked United States.

The Americans, who closed out the preliminary round with a win over Canada, defeated Colombia 52-45 in the other semifinal.

The winner of the final gains not only Parapan gold, but also a berth in the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

It’s the third straight Parapan Am Games that the U.S. and Canada have squared off for gold and a Paralympic berth.

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”Our rivalry never gets old,” said four-time Paralympian Travis Murao of Toronto, who scored four of his five tries in the first five minutes. “‘This is why we keep playing this game year after year, to get those big match-ups. It’s going to be exciting.”

Canada’s men’s wheelchair basketball team also posted an impressive result, downing Puerto Rico 88-31 to reach the semifinals.

In the pool, Tyson McDonald of Woodstock, Ont., won silver in the men’s SM14 200-metre individual medley and Fernando Lu of Burnaby, B.C., earned bronze in the S10 men’s 100 butterfly.

In track and field, Toronto’s Sheriauna Haase took bronze in the women’s T47 200 metres and Calgary’s Noah Vucsics was a bronze medallist in men’s T20 long jump.

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In other Canadian results, the women’s goalball team shut out Mexico 10-0 to book a semifinal matchup against Brazil, and Canadian para archer Kyle Tremblay hit a bull’s-eye in the shoot-off to win the bronze-medal match in the men’s individual compound open.

In boccia, Levine and Chica were tied 2-2 at the halfway point, but the Canadian took one in each of the final two ends to score the victory.

Cryderman took silver after losing 11-0 to Mexico’s Eduardo Sanchez in the men’s BC1 singles final, while Allard fell 11-1 to Ecuador’s Jorge Delgado in the men’s BC 2 final.

Ciobanu beat fellow Canadian Marco Dispaltro of Saint-Jerome, Que., in the men’s BC4 bronze-medal match.

In wheelchair rugby, Matthew Delby of Windsor, Ont, had 15 tries and Toronto’s Rio Kanda Kovac added 11 as Canada improved to 5-0 in Santiago.

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Zak Madell of Okotoks, Alta., who had 30 tries Tuesday against the U.S., added another nine against Brazil.

In 2019, the Americans defeated Canada to get an early ticket for Tokyo (Canada qualified later). Canada won in Toronto in 2015, when the sport made its Parapan Am debut.

In Canada’s wheelchair basketball win over Puerto Rico, Regina’s Nik Goncin led with 21 points and four assists. Patrick Anderson of Fergus, Ont., appearing at his sixth Parapan Am Games, added 16 points and six assists.

Canada, silver medallists four years ago in Lima, Peru, faces Argentina in Thursday’s semifinals.

In archery, Tremblay’s match went to a shootout after his opponent, Mexican Victor Sardinia, hit three perfect 10s in the fifth and final round to force the tiebreaker.

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Sardinia, who is without arms, holds the bow with his right foot, puts the string between his chin and chest, and pulls.

The 32-year-old Tremblay of Deep River, Ont., had already locked up a Paralympic quota spot for Canada by reaching the bronze-medal match.

“I wanted this one for Canada,” said Tremblay, Canada’s sole entry in the sport in Santiago. “I got the spot but going home with the medal makes it that much sweeter.

“Victor was amazing, he kept pushing and I had to stay focused. I couldn’t let my mind drift.”

In goalball, Charlottetown’s Amy Burk led Canada with five goals. The Canadians have won three straight since dropping their opening match 5-3 to the U.S.

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