Paralympic wake-up call: Canada's flag-bearer and former Olympian win inspirational silvers

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Canada's Priscilla Gagné competes against Cherine Abdellaoui of Algeria in the gold-medal bout of the women's 52-kilogram judo event.  (Thomas Peter/Reuters - image credit)
Canada's Priscilla Gagné competes against Cherine Abdellaoui of Algeria in the gold-medal bout of the women's 52-kilogram judo event. (Thomas Peter/Reuters - image credit)

Two Canadian Paralympians fought to inspirational silver medals on the mats and at the velodrome in Tokyo on Friday.

At the start of the week, Priscilla Gagné entered the National Stadium in Japan, holding Canada's flag and leading athletes with dreams of achievements at the Games.

Now Gagné has won a silver medal in judo after a series of fiery performances in the women's 52-kilogram category.

The 35-year-old from Sarnia, Ont., who now lives in Montreal, earned her first Paralympic medal at the Nippon Budokan — the spiritual home of Japanese martial arts.

Read more about Gagné's match and other Paralympians on Day 3 of Tokyo action here.

WATCH | Canada's Priscilla Gagné claims silver in Tokyo:

Here's more of what you missed on Friday:

Former Olympian shows strength for silver

After a frightening crash in 2017, Canadian athlete Kate O'Brien was told that she may never walk, cycle, or even speak again.

The tenacious O'Brien is not only still competing in sport — she also cycled to a silver medal in the women's C4-5 500-metre time trial.

WATCH | Canada's Kate O'Brien wins silver at first-ever Paralympics:

The 33-year-old from Calgary is a former Olympian, having competed as a cyclist in Rio 2016. Before she made the transition to summer sports, she was a bobsledder for Canada.

O'Brien, the reigning world champion, raced to the finish in a time of 35.439 seconds for second place.

Canada's sitting volleyball loses heartbreaker

Canada's women's sitting volleyball team also got its group-play start against Brazil at the Makuhari Messe Hall. And it was a battle to the finish.

While the Canadians grabbed the first-set win, the Brazilians came back to take the next two.

A determined Canada pushed things to a fifth and deciding set, where Brazil would come out on top in a nail-biting 17-15 finish after the teams traded match point.

The team next plays Italy on Sunday, with hopes to better its seventh-place finish from Rio 2016.

A near-medal for a spectacular swim

Danielle Dorris was among four Canadians who advanced to swimming finals on Friday. When she hit the water for the SM7 200-metre individual medley, she shot out fast.

Her swim of three minutes 3.16 seconds was so quick, in fact, that the 18-year-old athlete was only five hundredths of a second short of winning the bronze medal.

Dorris finished in fourth place, while other Canadians competing in the pool posted sixth- and fifth-place finishes.

Thomas Peter/Reuters
Thomas Peter/Reuters

Archery, rowing and more

Even more Canadians got in on the Paralympic action as of Friday.

Canada's Karen Van Nest, 58, took aim in the archery ranking event, where she ranked 11th with 678 points. She'll go up against Japan's Miho Nagano in an elimination round Sunday.

In the equestrian dressage event, Canadian Winona Hartvikson competed with horse Onyx for ninth place — Hartvikson was making her Paralympic debut at 62-years-old.

Meanwhile, Jody Schloss and horse Lieutenant Lobin placed 11th. Both Canadians fell just outside the qualifying ranks to move on to the individual freestyle test.

Canada's Roberta Sheffield and Fairuza as well as Lauren Barwick and Sandrino will compete later on.

And Canadian rowers on the PR3 mixed coxed four team placed fourth in their heat, competing in the repechage at the Sea Forest Waterway on Saturday.

Refugee Paralympic team

The Refugee Paralympic team has six athletes competing at the Games — one woman and five men.

It was team member Abbas Karimi who posted a speedy swim to get through to the men's 50-metre butterfly S5 final on Friday. The 24-year-old was born without arms in Kabul, Afghanistan and fled the country at age 16.

He raced to the finish in a time of 38.16 seconds, coming in seventh. China swept the podium.

Karimi had finished third in his qualifying heat earlier in the day.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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