The undisputed queen of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Aurélie Rivard, admits it straight away: she is still floating on a cloud two weeks after returning from Japan.

Rivard, 25, notched an impressive five medals, including two gold and one silver, in para swimming. She now has 10 career medals at the Paralympic Games.

In addition, if we combine his Tokyo harvest with that of four silver discs from para-athlete Brent Lakatos of Dorval, then there are nine of the 21 medals acquired by the Canadian delegation in the Japanese capital. Never seen.

“I didn’t realize that. It is all the same the “fun” to know. It’s a great accomplishment, I think, ”she first said, simply, in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press.

The Quebecer assures us, however, that she was not surprised to find herself on the podium so often in Japan. After all, she has worked hard over the past few years to be at the top of her discipline.

“That’s the reason I was training. There was no way I was going to Tokyo leaving things to chance. I was training to improve my performance, to break world records, and to bring back as many medals as possible. The medals in the 100m backstroke (silver) and the 4x100m VI relay (bronze) were nice surprises, and it could have gone all over the place, but I’m happy with the result in the end, ”summarized Rivard.

Rivard managed to defend two of his three Paralympic titles acquired in Rio de Janeiro in 2016: those in the 100m freestyle S10 and the 400m freestyle S10. However, she let slip the one in the 50 m freestyle S10, finally settling for the bronze disc. A performance that she still has difficulty digesting.

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“It’s a big disappointment for me. I was going there to win gold, she admitted. There wasn’t even a trap; it is my performance that is downright inexplicable. It’s not a mistake I made or anything, I don’t know what happened. Point. This is what makes me angry. The day after this result in the 50 freestyle, I did the same race in training and swam faster. So it’s very frustrating, except that it served as a springboard for my next results in the 100m and 400m freestyle. “

Obviously, his astounding statistics necessarily lead to his share of comparisons with the legendary Quebec para-swimmer Benoît Huot. The latter has collected 20 medals, including nine gold, in five editions of the Paralympic Games. Rivard swears, however, that she doesn’t have Huot’s marks in her sights.

“What Ben has accomplished over the past decade is unique in itself. And the more it goes, the more difficult it will be to reproduce. He will forever remain a legend in our community (of para-swimming). Ben would be the first to want me to break his records, but that’s not part of my goals, things that stuck in my head. That being said, it is already a great honor to be compared to him, that my name is mentioned in the same sentence as his, ”she said.

Rivard still considers his most recent medal harvest in Tokyo to be the most representative of his illustrious career.

“The older I get, the more I find that they increase in value. It’s hard to find a place in the middle, and it’s even more difficult to maintain it. I find that after the year that we just passed, with the pandemic and everything, I find it very gratifying to have been able to have such performances (in Tokyo). We were still limited in our training here in Canada, so these 21 medals there are even more special than those acquired four years ago, for example, ”she explained.

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Rivard will now take a break of a few months, away from the swimming pool, in order to continue his studies at the university (in law at Laval University). The main interested party plans to return to the pool from February 2022.

As to whether she intends to be on the starting line again at the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, it will be necessary to wait a little longer before knowing her answer.

“It’s hard to say, because we’ve never experienced a three-year Olympic cycle. We have less time to work out the details, and I might be able to talk about it in three years – if I surrender. But for now, I’m not changing my plan, I want to take a break, ”she said.

“Right now, I just want to say yes to everything I’ve said no for a year. I want to see my friends, my family, my relatives again, and enjoy life a little. Then I’ll know it’s time to go swimming again when I start to circle the house, ”she concluded, laughing.

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