Bedard earns silver medal at world games

The best athletes in the world find that extra gear when it matters most. Ray Bedard followed that formula to perfection.
The Fort Frances resident soared to new heights yesterday with a personal best of 4.45 metres to win the silver medal in the long jump event at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland.
“I’m thrilled for him and so very proud of him,” Bedard’s coach, Cindy Baker, said from her home here this morning. “I knew he would do it.
“I was so confident in him,” she added. “Ray’s the type that doesn’t choke under the pressure. He gets that burst of adrenaline that helps him do well in meets.”^Bedard qualified for the world games at last year’s national showdown with a jump of 4.16 m. He started off the preliminary round in Dublin with a mark of 4.13 m, which turned out to be his best after he fouled on his second jump and then registered 4.10 m in his third.
The distance left him second in his four-man division after the preliminaries, but with an extra competitor added to the group for the final round, the task of reaching the podium became that much tougher.
But despite being the oldest person in his group at 44, Bedard responded with a jump of 4.15m with his first, then exploded off the line with his second and found himself tied for the lead with Brazil’s Claudio Garcia at 4.45 m.
Bedard came through with another solid jump in his last effort—registering 4.24 m. But Garcia, who had finished third in the preliminary round at 4.07 m, rose to the challenge and nailed a mark of 4.54 m on his final leap to snatch the gold medal away.
Jordan’s Khaled Jarrar grabbed the bronze with a final round jump of 4.17 m.
Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Mousa landed a monstrous jump of 4.97 m and appeared to have the gold easily locked up. But he subsequently was disqualified, although the reason was unclear at press time.
The only disappointment for Baker was being awoken at 1 a.m.
this morning by Bedard’s phone call to share the news—only to have the line go dead before the operator could transfer the collect call from the Emerald Isle.
Still, there was no disguising her joy for her protégé’s outstanding achievement.
“Just getting to the [world] games is such an accomplishment,” said an emotional Baker. “Getting a medal is just a bonus.
“It’s his birthday on Sunday. He just gave himself a wonderful present.
And everyone I’ve talked to this morning is so excited for him.
He’s so well-liked around here.
“Working with Ray has been unbelievable. He’s such a great person,” she enthused.
And Bedard’s medal haul looks almost certain to increase before the games wrap up Sunday.
He and his Canada 2 teammates Steve Gauthier, Kalim Keays, and Jean-Francois Leclerc finished first in the preliminary heat in the 4x100m relay with a time of 53.33—almost four seconds faster than their qualifying time.
Great Britain 2 was second at 56.35 while Switzerland I were scratched before the race.
If the three-team division is not expanded before the final race, the worst Canada 2 can do is bronze.
Bedard also is aiming for a medal in the 200m, posting a time of 30.78 in the preliminary heat to finish fourth in his six-man division after qualifying for the event with a mark of 31.11.
Christopher Kassulke of Australia won the heat with a clocking of 26.87.