In the penultimate night of action at the pool, Will Martin blitzed the field in the 100m butterfly S9, smashing the world record to win his third gold of the games. After breaking the world record in the heats, Martin went almost a second faster in the final, touching the wall in 57.19.
The win adds to his Tokyo gold medals in the 400m S9 and the 4x100m freestyle (34 points). Sporting a green and gold bucket hat for his poolside interview, Martin said he was “over the moon”.
“Up until the last 10 metres or so, that’s when I was really stinging, [the race went to plan],” he told Channel Seven. “Everything before that just felt really good in the water.”
Ben Hance was also dominant in the 100m backstroke S14, finishing a body length ahead of his opponents and setting a new Paralympic record of 57.73. He added to the bronze he won in the 100m butterfly S14 and silver from the mixed 4x100m freestyle S14 these Games.
While Martin and Hance looked strong after their heats, Rachael Watson’s win in the 50m freestyle S4 came from lane two. Watson, who won gold at Rio in the same event, got off to a much better start in the final, before powering ahead of her rivals in the second half of the race.
She finished with a Paralympic record of 39.36, nearly four seconds faster than her time in the heats.
“I didn’t even know I won when I touched the wall,” an emotional Watson told Channel Seven. “I didn’t even think it was going to happen. I just can’t thank Australia and the world enough for embracing para sport and for embracing me as a person with a disability and believing in me.”
In the women’s 4×100 medley relay (34 points), 15-year-old Isabella Vincent was unable to hold off a fast-finishing USA and Russian teams, but battled hard to secure bronze for Australia.
The team was comprised of youngsters Vincent, Keira Stephens, 18, and Emily Beecroft, 21, and relative veteran Ellie Cole, 29. It was a remarkable 17th medal for Cole, in what may prove to be her last swim at a Paralympics, that saw her become Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian.
Meanwhile at a rain-soaked Tokyo Stadium, Australia’s Vanessa Low defended her gold from Rio, jumping a world record 5.28m to claim gold in the long jump T63. Low had won with her fifth jump of 5.20m, but did even better in her celebratory final jump.
Earlier, Paralympics canoe sprinter Curtis McGrath breathed a sigh of relief after he veered off course and hit a floating box marking the finishing line but still managed to get through what he later called one of the worst races of his life.
The Australian, who is aiming to win two gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympics, nearly saw his dreams of successfully defending his kayak single 200m KL2 title vanish after the incident towards the end of his heat on Thursday.
The former Australian Army combat engineer, whose legs were amputated after he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan nine years ago, pointed to a problem with his canoe’s rudder following the dramatic conclusion to his heat.
The mishap meant McGrath finished third and failed to qualify directly for the final – although crucially he was not disqualified – and he will now have to race a semi on Friday to keep his title defence on track.
“Difficult race for me – probably one of my worst in my life,” McGrath told the Seven Network. “I had a bit of a technical error with my rudder – [it] wasn’t straight, it was drifting out of my lane and the rule is if you go out of your lane or the centre of your lane you get disqualified.
“It’s better to have it happen in the heat rather than in the final so I just let it come back in and crossed the line and hoping for a good semi-final tomorrow.”
McGrath is also hoping to win gold in the new kayak class – the VL3 category – after he qualified fastest for the final.
According to theguardian.com. Source of photo: internet