Canada's Aurélie Rivard captures 2nd gold medal in Tokyo
Canadian becomes a 5-time Paralympic champion with her victory
Canada's Aurélie Rivard has struck gold for a second time in Tokyo, successfully defending another Paralympic title at the Games.
The 25-year-old had a powerful race, obliterating her own world record by finishing with a time of four minutes 24.08 seconds in the women's S10 400-metre freestyle on Wednesday.
Heading out to receive her gold on the podium, the athlete said she wondered whether it "might be the last time."
"Enjoy every second," she said. "That's exactly what I did."
The gold medal is Rivard's fourth time on the podium in Tokyo, tying the number of medals that she won in Rio 2016.
WATCH | Rivard shatters her world record for gold in Tokyo:
"My race went great. I really wanted to focus on the technical aspects, like I did in the 100 free," Rivard said. "When I noticed I was ahead of the other girls, I just focused on the black line at the bottom of the pool and on finishing the race as fast as I could and see if I could lower the world record.
"I'm really happy to have lowered it and to have won the gold medal."
It's also the second gold of the day for Canada, the first being captured by Greg Stewart in the men's F46 shot put.
Rivard, of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., was explosive off the start, establishing her lead early on in the competition. Halfway through the race, her competitors fell away.
When she touched the wall, the Canadian beat her own world record set in 2018 by over five seconds.
The feat also made her a five-time Paralympic champion.
Rivard's old record was still slightly faster than the time put down by Bianka Pap of Hungary, who earned silver with a time of 4:29.83. Oliwia Jablonska of Poland won the bronze.
WATCH | Canadian tops podium for second time at Tokyo Aquatic Centre:
Four medals in Tokyo
The Canadian athlete started off her stretch in Tokyo by winning a bronze medal in the S10 50-metre freestyle. But Rivard was attempting to defend a Paralympic title and left not fully content with her performance.
She came back to win Canada's first gold in Tokyo, where she repeated as champion in the women's S10 100-metre freestyle. Not only that, but Rivard broke her own world record in the event twice that day alone.
The Canadian swimmer also earned a bronze after a chaotic women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay — both Great Britain and the United States were disqualified after the race, then protested its outcome.
WATCH | Rivard on complex feelings of 400-metre freestyle:
The decision was upheld, which meant that Canada rose up the standings from fifth and landed on the podium.
Rivard said she was nervous coming into the race, referencing her experience at the world championships in 2019 where she was left with shortness of breath and had difficulty walking after a second-place finish.
"I was a lot more nervous, I would say, heading into this race, but I know that I put in the work," she said.
"Of course it was more special and I enjoyed the podium a bit more than usual."
The competitions left on her schedule, Rivard said, are "bonus events."
"I just want to do, obviously, the best that I can and see what I place," she said. "But I'm trying as much as possible not to put pressure on them, because I know that they don't mean the same thing [as] the freestyle events to me."
But, she went on, "you never know. I'm just going to swim as fast as possible."