Canada falls 57-51 to U.S. in wheelchair rugby Parapan American Games

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SANTIAGO, Chile — Zak Madell recorded 36 tries for the Canadian wheelchair rugby team, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 57-51 in the gold medal game against the United States on Thursday.

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Madell of Okotoks, Alta., kept Canada within touching distance during the match, including bringing the Canadians within one point of tying the match.

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Charles Aoki had 28 points for the U.S., which never trailed throughout the match.

This is the second straight Parapan American Games where Canada has finished with a silver medal in wheelchair rugby, having also done so at the 2019 Games.

The Canadian women’s team will have a chance for gold in wheelchair basketball after advancing with a 76-36 win over Argentina.

Arinn Young had a game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds while Cindy Ouellet added 18 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.

“I’m ready for anything at this point,” said Young in a release. “I love playing this sport. I just want to have fun with the girls. It’s a pretty big moment, so hopefully, we can just play basketball.”

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The team will play Friday in the gold medal game. Canada won gold at the 2019 Parapan Am Games in Lima.

Meanwhile, Emma Reinke’s hat trick helped Canada to a 4-2 victory over two-time defending champions Brazil in the women’s goalball semifinals.

Canada will play the United States for gold on Friday. A berth at the 2024 Paris Paralympics is also on the line.

”This is amazing, a real moment,” said four-time Paralympian Amy Burk of Charlottetown. “Brazil is a really strong team and we knew to beat them we really were going to have bring our A game.”

The Americans beat Argentina 8-1 in the other semifinal.

In the men’s semifinal, Canada dropped an 11-4 decision to the U.S.

Edmonton’s Blair Nesbitt scored all four Canadian goals.

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”We put everything into the last four years to get a different result,” said Canadian veteran Doug Ripley of Vancouver. ”It’s really heartbreaking.”

Canada will play Argentina for the bronze medal on Friday. The Americans will play Brazil for gold and a berth at the Paralympics.

Earlier Thursday, Canadian wheelchair rugby athlete Eric Rodrigues was elected to the Americas Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council.

Karen O’Neill, chief executive officer of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, said Rodrigues is a strong leader with a passion for making Para sport the “best and most impactful it can be.”

“We know he will be a very effective ambassador for all Para athletes in the Americas and contribute to advancing Para sport across the region,” O’Neill said in a statement.

“We wish him the best in this new role and look forward to working with him more as an athlete leader.”

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