Collin Cameron Skis to Historic Paralympic Bronze in Beijing
BEIJING, Chn— Collin Cameron skied into the historic books as the first Canadian male ever to reach the podium in the Paralympic sit-ski distance race, winning the bronze in Beijing, China.
It was the fourth career Paralympic bronze medal for the Bracebridge, Ont. resident who became just the second Canadian male ever to win a Paralympic sit-ski cross-country ski medal after gutting out a brilliant bronze in Beijing.
Cameron clocked a time of 47:36.6 in the 18-kilometre sit-ski classification.
“We talk about those perfect races, and so far just on thinking about today, that was probably the one perfect race that I have had in my career,” said Cameron. “I honestly don’t think I could have raced it any better today. I raced my line. I stayed in my zones. I did exactly what I needed to do and where I needed to do it. It just feels great.”
Chris Klebl is the only other Canadian male sit-skier to medal at a Paralympics. Klebl shocked the world on the final day of the 2014 Paralympics when he won the 10-kilometre sit-ski race.
On Sunday, Cameron shocked himself while preventing a podium sweep by the host country in one of the deepest and most challenging race classifications.
China’s Zheng Peng and Mao Zhongwu finished one-two in the six-lap test. Peng claimed Paralympic gold with a time of 43:09.2. Zhongwu was second at 43:23.8.
Cameron was dialed in all day, perfectly pacing himself in each trip around the 3-kilometre loop.
“The plan was to just keep in my zone and not blow up early, race at my own pace where I knew I could hold it right near the top, stick there, see what my splits were like and then start pushing harder and keep everything together because it is so easy to blow up at altitude out here with it being a six lap race so I needed to just have control,” said Cameron, who hammered the pace in his final lap.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t feel awesome today, but it really hasn’t sunk in yet to be honest. I need a few more hours to process what just happened today because it was completely unexpected.”
It was Cameron’s first individual Paralympic cross-country skiing medal. The former para ice hockey player racked up two, third-place biathlon finishes before adding another bronze in the relay event at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang.
“It’s always great to medal in any event, but it’s a good confidence boost for me to come in and get a surprise medal for me in the 18k because I wasn’t expecting this,” added Cameron, who was targeting a top-five finish in this challenging field. “I think some people had some hopes coming into this for me thinking I might have a really good race today, but I certainly didn’t have that confidence even this morning. It feels pretty cool to race well today and get third.”
Two other Canadians competed in the men’s individual start race. Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smoky Lake, Alta., was 13th at 50:42.6.
Ethan Hess, of Pemberton, B.C., placed 18th at 54:35.9 in his first start in Beijing.
Lyne-Marie Bilodeau, of Magog, Que., was the lone Canadian to suit up in the women’s 15-kilometre sit-ski competition and finished ninth with a time of 59:38.1.
China’s Yang Huan won the women’s classification with a time of 43:06.7.
The women’s 15km and men’s 20km long-distance classic cross-country sit-ski races for the visually impaired and standing categories are slated for Monday.
Check out CBC’s streaming and TV viewing guide to catch all of the Para-Nordic action in Beijing.