Paralympics·THE BUZZER

Fun facts about Canada's Paralympic team

With the Tokyo Paralympic Games opening Tuesday, CBC Sports' daily newsletter introduces you to some of the most notable athletes competing for Canada.

Rivard, Lakatos lead a talented group whose ages range from 17-64

Canada's Aurélie Rivard has won five swimming medals at the Paralympics and 14 at the world championships. (Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports' daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what's happening in sports by subscribing here.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games open tomorrow

Like the Tokyo Olympics a month ago, the Paralympics are set to begin a year later than originally planned, and under a cloud of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan. Following the Olympics' lead, competition will be held largely without fans and organizers are promising to complete the event as safely as possible with a raft of health and safety protocols. International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons is calling this "the most important Paralympic Games ever" because people with disabilities were "disproportionately affected" by the pandemic. "We are giving them a voice in a time when they need their voice to be heard the most," Parsons said.

The Games officially begin with the opening ceremony at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday at 7 a.m. ET. Live coverage starts at 6 a.m. ET on the CBC TV network, the CBC Gem streaming service, and the CBC Sports app.

Canada's flag-bearer is Priscilla Gagné. She's a gold-medal contender in judo, which at the Paralympics is contested by athletes with a visual impairment. The 35-year-old from Sarnia, Ont., is ranked second in the world in the women's 52-kilogram division. She placed fifth in her Paralympic debut in 2016, then went on to take bronze at the 2018 world championships. Gagné has also won two gold medals at the Pan American para judo championships, and a pair of silvers at the Parapan Am Games. Her tournament begins Thursday night in Canadian time zones. Read more about Gagné here.

Canada has sent 128 athletes (including guides) to these Games to compete in 18 different sports. That's about a third the size of the Canadian team for the Tokyo Olympics, and also quite a bit smaller than the 162-athlete squad that competed at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, where Canada won 29 medals (including eight gold) to finish 14th in the total count. In Tokyo, 71 of the Canadian athletes (55 per cent) are women. 26 have won a Paralympic medal. Fifty-five are competing in the Paralympics for the first time. Two — archer Karen Van Nest and wheelchair rugby player Patrice Simard — are making their sixth appearance.

WATCH | Canadian Paralympians to watch at Tokyo 2020:

5 Canadian Paralympians to watch in Tokyo

1 year ago
Duration 2:45
Learn about one of the greatest wheelchair basketball players of all time, a track cyclist making her Paralympic debut after an incredible recovery, the king of Para triathlon and more with CBC Sports host, Jacqueline Doorey.

Some other interesting facts about the Canadian team:

The most decorated (and maybe most tireless) athlete is Brent Lakatos. Heading into his fifth Paralympics, the 41-year-old wheelchair racer owns seven medals. He won four of them in Rio — including gold in the 100-metre event for his category. So, you might think of him as the Paralympic version of Andre De Grasse — except with even more versatility. Lakatos' other Paralympic medals have come in the 200, 400, 800 and 4x400, and he's won world titles at each of those distances along with the 100. Oh, and how's this for range: Lakatos also won the men's wheelchair race at the London Marathon last year. Starting with the 5,000m on Saturday, he'll compete in an arm-burning five track events in six days (he's also in the 100, 400, 800 and 1,500) before finishing with the marathon on Sept. 4 in Canadian time zones. Talk about a busy week.

Canadian wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos will compete in six events, ranging from the 100m to the marathon. (Pool/Getty Images)

The most decorated female athlete is Aurélie Rivard. She swam to three individual golds in Rio (in the 50-, 100- and 400-metre freestyle events in her category) and added a silver to bring her career Paralympic medal total to five. The 25-year-old looks like a good bet to add more after reaching five podiums at the 2019 world championships, including gold medals in the 50m and 100m freestyle. Rivard now owns 14 medals from her four trips to worlds. In Tokyo, she'll start by defending her Paralympic title in the 50 free (the final goes Wednesday at 6:13 a.m. ET) before also trying to repeat in the 100 free on Saturday and the 400 free on Sept. 1. She'll also compete in the 100m backstroke on Sept. 2 and the 200m individual medley on Sept. 3.

The youngest and oldest athletes were born almost a half century apart. Swimmer Nicholas Bennett is only 17, while wheelchair fencer Ruth Sylvie Morel is 64. And shout-out to equestrian rider Winona Hartvikson, who's making her Paralympic debut at age 62. Read more about Canada's Paralympic team here and read a primer on the Tokyo Games here.

Competition begins Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET and continues until the closing ceremony on Sept. 5. During that time, this newsletter will continue to arrive in your inbox around 4 p.m. ET every weekday and will focus primarily on the Paralympics. We'll keep you in the know about the most interesting results and guide you on the top Canadians to watch in upcoming events.

The CBC TV network is showing events in three blocks each day — afternoon, evening and late night in your local time. Check your listings for the exact windows. Also, up to a dozen events will be streamed live every day on CBC Gem, and the CBC Sports app. See the full broadcast and streaming schedule here.

WATCH | Priscilla Gagné leads Canadian delegation in parade of athletes:

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