In his fifth and final Paralympic Games as an athlete, Vancouver’s Richard Peter scored 10 points and added four assists in the men’s wheelchair basketball final to beat Australia 64-58 and win gold for Canada at the 2012 London Games.
His veteran leadership contributed to Canada avenging its Aussie rivals, who beat Canada four years ago in the gold-medal final at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. With the win, Australia interrupted a winning streak that saw Canada claim gold in Athens 2004 and in Sydney 2000 where the Canadians denied the Australians glory on their home court. The Australians finished fifth in 2000.
Canada finished the tournament with a perfect 8-0 record. Peter, now a four-time Paralympic gold medalist, turned 40 on Sept. 10 and celebrated his birthday during the London Paralympic Closing Ceremony.
Against the defending champions, the Canadians got off to a slow start and had trouble hitting buckets. They trailed by only one point after the first frame but were shooting just 41 per cent from the field. They took the lead for the first time in the second quarter but the game remained locked at 27-26 at half time.
The third quarter was Canada’s best. They outscored Australia 20-15 and fought to maintain the lead, outscoring their opponents by one basket to win by six points.
Peter is married to Paralympic gold medalist and now the assistant coach of the women’s wheelchair basketball team, Marni Abbott-Peter. The women’s team finished sixth in London.
A member of the Cowichan Tribes, Peter grew up in Duncan and this year was honoured with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award.
Vancouver’s Josh Vander Vies and his boccia partner Marco Dispaltro of Quebec defeated the British team of brothers Stephen and Peter McGuire 8-2 last week at the London Games to bring home Paralympic bronze in the BC4 mixed pairs category.
Wrapped in a Canadian flag after the win, Vander Vies, a 27-year-old UBC student and motivational speaker, told the National Post, “It feels so good, fantastic.”
The Canadians suffered a heartbreaking semi-final defeat on a tiebreak to miss the gold medal match.