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Canada closes 2012 London Paralympics with silver in wheelchair rugby

Trevor Hirschfield of Canada (C) collides with Ryley Batt (R) and Naz Erdem (L) of Australia during the Wheelchair Rugby final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games September 9, 2012.

TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS

Canada's mixed wheelchair rugby team picked up a silver medal on Sunday, giving Canada one last piece of hardware at the 2012 London Paralympics.

After a surprise and hard-fought semi-final win over the United States on Saturday, Canada fell 66-51 to Australia in the final. Ryley Batt led the Australians with 37 goals while Chris Bond added 15.

"After the first loss to Australia, we looked at each other in the locker room and said, "We need to man up. We need to bring it" and from there we started the wave and just rode that wave," said Canadian veteran Mike Whitehead of Harrow, Ont. "We grew together as a team and we're a much better team now than when we started."

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Edmonton's Zak Madell led Canada with 11 goals. Kelowna, B.C., native Garrett Hickling — Canada's flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies — and Whitehead each added seven goals.

The U.S. beat Japan 53-43 for bronze.

Canada was unable to add any medals in the wheelchair marathon events.

The men's event was won by Paralympic superstar David Weir of Britain, who was already household name in the host nation after winning the 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 5,000 metres. He blazed to the win in a time of one hour, 30 minutes, 20 seconds.

Josh Cassidy of Guelph, Ont., placed 12th in a time of 1:33:06.

"This is the toughest course I've ever done but I gave it everything I had," Cassidy said.

After recovering from a crash and having to fix a flat tire Michel Filteau of St. Jean Baptiste, Que., finished 26th in 1:47:39.

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Diane Roy of Sherbrooke, Que., was the top Canadian in the women's race, finishing seventh overall in a time of 1:53:02.

"I did all that I could, this summer I put all of my focus into my top speed," she said. "So on this course to slow down in the curves and then accelerate again was exhausting, especially after ten days of competition."

Shirley Reilly of the U.S. was first in 1:46.33. Shelly Woods was one second behind, narrowly completing a marathon sweep for the host nation.

Canada finished with 31 medals — seven gold, 15 silver and nine bronze. Canada finished 20th in gold medals and 13th in overall medals.

Later Sunday, Montreal swimmer Benoit Huot carried the Canadian flag into Olympic Stadium as part of the closing ceremony. Huot won three medals in the pool in London — a gold, silver and bronze.

"It's been a great journey, my fourth Games," Huot said Sunday. "I'm really proud of what I've done here in London."

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