PARALYMPICS / Newsmakers

Diane Roy: Crown after collision
By Lei Lei
China Daily/The Paralympian Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-09-09 10:22


Right place. Right time. Right move.

That about sums up Canadian Diane Roy's crowning moment in a close race in the women's 5,000m T54 yesterday.

Canada's Diane Roy wins the gold medal in the women's 5,000m T54 at the Bird's Nest yesterday. [Xinhua]

With all the 11 finalists starting the race neck and neck, the spectators were holding their breath in the first long-distance Paralympic final at the Bird's Nest.

In the penultimate of the 12.5 laps, a collision led to six athletes withdrawing early.

"I was just there in the right place at the right time. I made a good move in the last two laps, just before the crash I just moved outside," said Roy, who finished fourth in the event at the 2004 Athens Games. "I think it was the best thing I did because if I stayed behind, I would have been in the crash."

And after winning, the 37-year-old was matter-of-fact: "I'm just feeling very well. This is my first race here. I'm very satisfied and happy with it."

Briton Shelly Woods took the silver, followed by Amanda McGrory of the US.

Roy picked up wheelchair racing after an accident when she was 17.

"I like to do a lot of races. I feel good with that," she said. "I like the competition and I like the sport. I did sport when I was young. So after the accident, I decided to try wheelchair racing. I love it."

Roy still has four more events to compete at the Beijing Games -- 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 4x100m relay and the marathon in which she is tipped for gold in the middle distance events and the marathon.

Basketballer on track

The crash which Roy managed to avoid yesterday dashed the dream of another Canadian on the track -- but she still has a chance to win on the basketball court.

Tracey Ferguson -- who had to pull out of the women's 5,000m because of the collision -- has now set her eye on today's wheelchair basketball.

"Tomorrow, I will be on the basketball court," said Ferguson yesterday after her team scraped past the Netherlands.

"We had a good game in the morning. The team played well. We are looking to play that way or even better tomorrow."

The 34-year-old has been a member of four Paralympic teams as a wheelchair basketball competitor, but was competing in a track event for the first time in Beijing.

Always a competitor, she grew up playing street hockey before spinal surgery left her paralyzed at the age of nine.

Four years later, Ferguson returned to competitive sports when she discovered wheelchair sports through a local fitness center. Her dream of representing Canada at the international level and standing on the podium was born again.

Of all the sports she discovered, it has been wheelchair basketball that allowed her not only to reach the podium at the international level, but to reach the top at both World Championships and Paralympic Games. She was named to two World All-Star Teams in 1998 and 2002.

Three years ago, she picked up wheelchair racing.

Her debut performances demonstrate that she is a force to be reckoned with on the track. At the 2006 Paralympic National Championships, she placed second in 200m and third in 400m. She also qualified for the 800m finals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 200m final at the 2006 International Paralympic Committee Athletic World Championship.

"I wanted to try something new, some new challenge," she said. "I was really excited about the opportunity of possibly racing in Beijing because I knew the crowds would be phenomenal. The crowd was amazing today," she told The Paralympian.

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