Canadians Wilkie, Cameron win para nordic world championship gold medals

ÖSTERSUND, Sweden — Canadians Natalie Wilkie and Collin Cameron captured gold medals Saturday at 2023 para nordic world championship event.

Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., and Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I. also both claimed silver medals for the Canadian team.

Wilkie, of Salmon Arm. B.C., won the 7.5-kilometre biathlon event in the women's standing competition on her 22nd birthday She missed just one of 10 shots but claimed top spot with a time of 22 minutes 43.5 seconds.

"A great birthday present," she said. "I woke up this morning hoping for a podium and taking the gold medal today, so it was a special way to celebrate."

Hudak finished behind Wilkie. She was perfect on the shooting range and posted a time of 23:14.2.

Cameron, of Sudbury, Ont., also earned his first world championship biathlon crown in the men’s sit-skiing event. He missed just one of 10 shots on the range but posted a winning time of 24:10.0.

“That was so unexpected, I didn’t even know that I'd won when I crossed the line,” said Cameron. "It is such a great feeling to get my first biathlon win and to have it hear at worlds is amazing.”

It was an emotional win for Cameron, who resides in Bracebridge, Ont., as his father had recently passed away.

"It has been a really tough start to the year with the sudden passing of my father and flying home last minute for a couple of days before coming to Sweden," he said. "Today’s race will always be a special one for me and I’m proud I was able to get a win here for my dad."

Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smoky Lake, Alta., was sixth in 25:53.5.

Arendz was second in the men’s standing competition. He missed two shots in his final bout of shooting and posted a time of 20:03.1, just three seconds behind winner Marco Maier of Germany.

“It was a very close finish," the Canadian said. "The speed I had on the final lap made it possible to challenge for the title despite some trouble on the range.

"That speed gives me the confidence going forward into the remaining races at worlds.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2023.

The Canadian Press