Philippe Bedard and Joel Dembe have captured Canada’s first-ever wheelchair tennis medal at either a Parapan Am or Paralympic Games after clinching the bronze medal at TO2015 on Thursday.
After dropping a heartbreaker semifinal 10-8 in the match tiebreaker to Brazilians Daniel Rodrigues and Carlos Santos, Bedard and Dembe rebounded in the third-place battle. The Canadian duo ousted Americans Steve Baldwin and Jon Rydberg 6-4, 6-2 at the University of Scarborough Tennis Centre to secure their medal.
“We did everything we worked on with our coach,” Dembe said about the match. “We played pretty much the exact same way we played against Brazil and I still feel we should have won that match. But I’m proud of winning and coming away with a medal and leaving on a high note is fantastic.”
“It’s been a long time dreaming of a medal,” an emotional Bedard said. “I had bad luck for two months. I had a sacrum injury and was bedridden for seven weeks. This was a big battle. It’s a little miracle that I’m here. And to have won a medal, it’s extraordinary!”
Entering the Parapan Am Games, the goal for Team Canada was to win a medal. Bedard and Dembe, who are four-time Canadian national champions, have become the first homegrown athletes to win a Parapan Am medal. Canada’s previous best finish at a big multi-sport Games was fourth place at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games by Sarah Hunter and Brian McPhate.
“What an achievement,” Dembe said. “After our tough loss on Tuesday to Brazil we could have given up and kept our heads down but we didn’t. We fought hard today and we wanted it more. This is extra special doing it in my home city.”
With Bedard and Dembe’s victory, the Canadian wheelchair team is officially done at the TO2015 Parapan Am Games. Bedard and Dembe were joined on Team Canada by female players Yuka Chokyu and Mika Ishikawa, alongside coach Christian Gingras, team captain Kai Schrameyer, and physical therapist Mara Chaplin.
For the complete draws and results from the wheelchair tennis event at TO2015, please click here.