Katarina Roxon of Kippens is shown during the 100-metre breaststroke SB8 final at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Wednesday. Roxon won the gold medal with a time of 1:19.44.
©Photo courtesy of Scott Grant/CPC
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Even from more than 8,000 kilometres away, the sheer giddiness of Katarina Roxon’s voice over the phone was unmistakable just about an hour after she had left the pool.
“It feels crazy right now,” said the 23-year-old Kippens native.
“I felt amazing in the pool. It’s indescribable how amazing it felt swimming that race.”
“That race” was the 100-metre breaststroke (SB8) at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Wednesday.
Roxon won the gold medal for Canada with a time of 1:19.44. She was the lone Canadian swimmer of the eight in the final.
“That was the time I was aiming for,” said the three-time Paralympian. “Everything just fell into place.”
Roxon also had the fastest qualifying time earlier in the day at 1:21.27.
She has always viewed the 100-m breaststroke as her best event and her success has backed that up. She had previously earned a gold medal at the Toronto Parapan American Games and a bronze at the 2015 World Championships.
But this gold medal in Rio de Janeiro?
“This is my best swim I’ve ever done in my life,” she said, unable to contain her laughter.
The bronze at last year’s worlds inspired her to work even harder to improve and, though she was confident before the finals on Wednesday, there were obviously pre-race butterflies.
“It’s the finals at the Paralympic Games,” she said, describing her thought process. “I can’t go higher than this.”
She managed to calm herself, saying she put her faith and trust in God. No matter what the outcome, she said, she would have been happy with it.
“It worked out amazingly.”
The celebration won’t last long for Roxon, at least not for now.
She’s got to get her mind back on track for other races, beginning with her last individual event, the 100-m butterfly, Thursday. She will also compete in the 4 x 100-m freestyle team relay and then, on Friday, the 4 x 100-m medley team relay.
Previous experience has taught her to keep her focus on what lies ahead before reflecting on what just happened. After her bronze at the words, she admits she got so excited with winning her first individual international medal, the rest of her races “weren’t that great.”
“I learned from that and I’m hoping (today) is going to be a great swim as well,” she said.
She’s unsure what might happen in the 100-m butterfly race — the confidence gained from Wednesday’s gold-medal win is helpful, but the two events are completely different strokes, using different muscles.
A personal best time and, ideally, another finals qualification is all she’d hope for.
“That’s my goal,” she said. “I’m excited to see what happens.”