Paralympic wake-up call: Disqualifications result in shock bronze medal for Canadian swimmers

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The Canadian women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay team was awarded a third-place finish following a pair of disqualifications at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Sunday. (Oliver Walters/CBC - image credit)
The Canadian women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay team was awarded a third-place finish following a pair of disqualifications at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Sunday. (Oliver Walters/CBC - image credit)

A bronze medal for Canada at the Paralympics hung in the balance of controversy at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

It came under extraordinary circumstances — a pair of disqualifications that left the Canadian women's swimming relay team waiting in anticipation on Sunday.

Great Britain and the United States were disqualified in the women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay for early takeoffs during the second exchange of the race. The latter country protested the race but the decision was upheld, resulting in Canada being awarded third place and the bronze medal — its 11th of the Games.

The team of Morgan Bird, Katarina Roxon, Sabrina Duchesne, and Aurélie Rivard looked at each other and around the pool deck when the news of the disqualification broke following the race, seemingly afraid to celebrate too early.

Due to the United States' protest, the medal ceremony for the event was postponed.

Read more about the swimming situation in Tokyo and other athletes on Day 5 action here.

Here's more of what you missed on Sunday:

Lakatos secures another silver

At nearly the same time as the swimming chaos, Canadian wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos charged to another silver medal in Tokyo, this time in the men's T53 400-metre race.

Fresh off his other second-place win, the 41-year-old from Dorval, Que., pushed to the finish line in a personal best time of 46.75 seconds. But it wasn't enough to catch Thailand's Pongsakorn Paeyo, who broke Lakatos's world record in a blistering 46.61.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Canada gets bronze in Para triathlon

While it didn't happen overnight in Canada, it's impossible not to mention Stefan Daniel's incredible bronze medal race in the men's PTS5 Para triathlon.

The 24-year-old finished in 59 minutes 22 seconds and adds it to his silver medal from the Para triathlon PT4 at Rio 2016.

"I absolutely fought for this. I'm really proud of my effort today," he told CBC Sports's Devin Heroux. 

The athlete added that he wants to show that Para sport is just as legitimate as the Olympic side.

"I think we're doing a good job of proving that here ... I'm really excited with where the sport's at; I'm really hoping I inspired Canadians back home, and maybe some people will go ride a bike today or go for a run."

WATCH | Canada's Stefan Daniel on his bronze medal accomplishment:

Canada's Kamylle Frenette finished just outside of the medals in fourth place with a time of one hour 10:09 minutes in the in the women's PTS5 Para triathlon.

Frenette, 25, has also been working on the front line as a pharmacy student, helping to give people the COVID-19 vaccine in Nova Scotia clinics.

Paying tribute to former captain

The Canadian men's wheelchair basketball team now has its first win in Tokyo. It came against Korea in a 74-64 battle at the Ariake Arena on Sunday.

Along with impressive skill, there's a lot of heart with this team. 

The men have been sporting Superman tattoos as a tribute to its former co-captain David Eng, who has one on his shoulder.

Eng has three Paralympic medals, two of them gold, and was the flag-bearer at the opening ceremony for Rio 2016. But after a bureaucratic disagreement on classifications, athletes were reassessed and Eng was ineligible for the team.

The athlete posted a 'thank you' message on Instagram, saying he got emotional while acting as commentator for the game for Radio-Canada.

Football, shooting launch in Tokyo

Two more sports got underway in Tokyo on Sunday — football 5-a-side and shooting.

While one of the five players can be sighted — the goalie — Para football is played solely by the visually impaired. Though fans are banned from these Games, it's required that crowds must be silent until a goal is scored — players use their hearing to track the ball, which makes noise.

For more on how football 5-a-side is played, check out this explainer on some unique Para sports.

Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images
Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Shooting athletes were involved with training sessions at the Asaka Shooting Range. But football matches truly began, with host nation Japan earning a 4-0 win over France on home soil.

A centimetre from gold

Garrah Tnaiash of Iraq roared after he had the throw of his life at the National Stadium in Tokyo, hitting a mark of 11.15 metres in the men's F40 shot put.

It was a world record — but only for a moment. 

Denis Gnezdilov of the Russian Paralympic Committee also came to play and beat the athlete with a throw one centimetre further to claim the world record title and the gold medal.

The athletes hugged after a hard-fought battle. And Portugal's Miguel Monteiro, the previous world record holder, secured the bronze. 

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Swimmers make a splash

Canadian swimmers are destroying national records in the pool.

On Sunday alone, three athletes — Nicolas-Guy Turbide, Nicholas Bennett, and Sabrina Duchesne — had speedy swims in their respective events to set new Canadian marks. 

Despite not winning medals, the trailblazers are making a statement in Tokyo.

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