The sounds of Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z floated from the stage over Olympic Stadium as 11 athletes and six support staff from the Island marched and rolled with the 145-member Canadian team into the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Paralympics to close out Londons golden summer.
It was also an unforgettable way for Richard Peter of Duncan to celebrate his 40th birthday Sunday. Peter put an exclamation point on the Islands performance at the Games the night before by scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds to pace Canada to a 64-58 victory over defending-champion Australia in the gold-medal game of mens wheelchair basketball.
The Vancouver-based Peter, one of the Cowichan Tribes greatest sporting heroes, was four years old when run over by a school bus in Duncan. Nicknamed the Bear for his prodigious upper-body strength, the Cowichan High graduate is one of this countrys most decorated Summer Paralympians and also led Canada to gold at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 and silver at Beijing 2008.
Also over the weekend, Trevor Hirschfield of Parksville captured the silver medal as Canada made the gold-medal game in mens wheelchair rugby by pipping the favoured arch-rival Americans by one point in the semifinals before losing 66-51 to the Aussies in the final.
B.C. athletes won or were part of eight of Canadas 31 medals, including two golds.
Emerging swimmer Brianna Nelson of Victoria, with two silver medals, and veteran wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell of Nanoose Bay with gold and silver, led the Island contingent at the 2012 London Summer Paralympics.
While career multi-medallist Stilwell, like Peter, is one of the noted Canadian legends of the Paralympic movement, the 20-year Nelson will bear watching in the quadrennial leading to Rio 2016. This was already the second Paralympics for the UVic history student, born with cerebral palsy, after appearing in Beijing 2008 as a teen but not reaching the podium.
Im really tired [Nelson swam eight events in eight days] but otherwise OK, said the Island Swimming Club member.
These Games have been a really great experience. There were results I didnt expect and others I wished I had done better. But Ill definitely look back at the Games very fondly.
Sailors Stacie Louttit and John McRoberts, both of Victoria, could not replicate their podium performance from Beijing 2008 and placed fourth in London in the Skud-18 two-person mixed boat.ê±
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