The tide turned Tuesday when Australia claimed gold over defending champions Canada at the men`s wheelchair basketball final.
Australia, silver medalist in Athens, earned its first top finish in the sport since the 1996 Atlanta Games while dreams of gold were shattered for the Canadian team, which was defeated in Beijing for the very first time.
Australia beat Canada 72-60, while bronze went to Great Britain.
"We are bringing home a gold for the Honey Badgers (their team mascot)," said Australian coach Benjam Ettridge. "My players were all outstanding."
Canada led by seven points at the end of the second quarter, 31-28. But two free throws later gave Australia a one-point lead with just five minutes left on the clock. By the end of the quarter, Australia had a comfortable seven-point lead, 54-47.
In the last quarter, Canadian forward Patrick Anderson scored seven points for his team, but it wasn`t enough for the Canucks to keep up with the Aussies.
"There is no free ticket to the top," said Anderson, who scored 22 points for Canada. "In a way, it is a good way to kick off the challenge of rebooting and trying to stay at, or near the, top of our sport."
"It`s my first gold medal. I`ve been working all my life for it," said Australian forward Shaun Norris. "It`s unbelievable to realize my dream."
Great Britain fought the United States to defend its bronze from Athens, taking the game 85-77.
British forward Terence Bywater was the game`s top scorer with 32 points, a total that included five successful free throws in the last two minutes of the game.
"Every time we play these guys (US), it is a fight," said Bywater. "The whole British team was amazing, and we turned on from the first minute."
"We`re going to go home and work hard," said American forward Steve Serio. "We are very excited at the opportunity to represent our country again at the 2012 London Games."