GOLD for Lisa Adams in Shot Put as the Wheel Blacks conclude their Tokyo 2020 campaign today
Highlights from Tokyo – Day 4:
- Lisa Adams wins gold and set new Paralympic record in the Women’s Shot Put F37
- Caitlin Dore competes in Women’s Shot Put F37 after switching disciplines after Rio 2016
- Danielle Aitchison wins Women’s 200m T36 heat and qualifies second fastest
- Wheel Blacks deliver a strong performance, to almost win their match against Denmark, finishing 8th
- Barney Koneferenisi top try scorer for the fourth day in a row, scoring 37 of 53 points today
It was a seriously pumped group of Kiwi Para athletes that headed out from the Athlete Village and into Day 4 of competition this morning, after the GOLD medal win by compatriot Tupou Neiufi in the pool last night. This tight-knit team follow each other’s fortunes very closely, as evidenced by the strong cheer squad in the Aquatics Centre last night and welcome home to the residence later in the evening, and it was clear today’s contingent were very determined to follow her lead.
In field Lisa Adams competed in the Women’s Shot Put F37 event, entering the competition ranked 1st in the world and as current World Record holder and won a gold medal leading from the first throw.
She came out and showed the field she meant business with her first throw of 14.36m setting a new Paralympic record. Adams then went on to better the record 4 times with each throw. She won the gold medal with a final throw of 15.12m and new Paralympic record. The silver medal went to Na Mi (China) throwing 13.69m and bronze to Yingli Li (China) at 13.33m.
Adams, who has Cerebral Palsy, made her Paralympic debut under the eagle eye of coach and New Zealand sporting legend, sister Dame Valerie Adams. Relatively new to Para sport, Adams was talent spotted by legendary Para athletics coach Raylene Bates in 2018 and from her very first throw, was seen as a potential star in the making. Just 18 months after first picking up a shot put, Adams was selected in the New Zealand team for the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships. In the F37 shot put competition she broke her own world record three times and came away with the gold.
Lisa Adams said: “When I was up on the podium I was reflecting on how proud I am and how much I wanted to do this for me and my son, how special it has been doing this with my sister. I’ve felt so supported and loved. And really proud to do this for Aotearoa and our little team of 5 million. It is trippy to think that we are doing the things we love during the pandemic but I’m so grateful that we can do this here as safely as we can. It’s a dream come true.“
Caitlin Dore (Paralympian #192) returned for her second Paralympics, this time competing in Women’s Shot Put F37. She entered the competition ranked 4th in the world. She progressively built on her throws throughout the competition with a best throw of 9.03m not quite reaching her personal best of 10.04m.
Five years ago, Dore placed 7th in javelin with the spectacularly successful Rio 2016 Para athletics squad. Dore, who also has Cerebral Palsy, made the shift to shot put after reassessing her athletic career post Rio. Results have been very promising: she broke the New Zealand F37 shot put record in February 2018, just eight months after making the change. She then represented New Zealand at the 2019 World Athletics Championships, placing 7th in the shot put F37 final.
Caitlin Dore said: “I have mixed emotions about tonight’s performance. Definitely not the outcomes that I wanted but I am excited and proud to be here. Five years ago I was at the Paralympic Games as a javelin thrower so to come back as a shot putter is a massive achievement. I obviously wanted more like every athlete does but it just wasn’t my day. I will definitely come back fighting and hopefully in another three years I will be able to prove that I’ve got it.“
Paralympic debutant Danielle Aitchison took to the athletics track to compete in the Women’s 200m T36 Round 1 Heats today, entering the competition ranked 1st in the world. She made a solid start and pulled away in the last 100m to win convincingly in 30.12. The winner of the Round 2 Heat was Yiting Shi (China) in a time of 29.37.
After quitting team sport in 2016 due to the challenges from her hearing impairment, Aitchison was encouraged by her Mum to attend several disability camps to re-engage her interest in sport. Her love of sprinting was crystallized after she competed at the 2017 Halberg Disability Games. Her focus paid off, with selection to represent New Zealand at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai. On international debut, she flew through her 200m T36 heat securing the fastest qualifier for the final. In the final, it took a world record breaking performance to beat her to the gold medal. With a silver under her belt, she lined up in the 100m T36, securing 4th in the final.
Aitchison will compete in the finals today at 3.10pm NZT.
Danielle Aitchison said: “The plan was to get the best block start and then see where I was standing in the race. As soon as I was hit the 100m mark I saw there was no one else in front of me so I just cruised the rest of the race. I feel so happy to be in a Paralympic final. Now I just need to do the recover tonight to be ready to race the final tomorrow. So with a midday race tomorrow here in Japan I will now go and do a good warm down, eat, sleep and refuel in the morning.“
The Wheel Blacks concluded their Tokyo 2020 campaign today, with the plucky Kiwis finishing 8th overall, following a hard-fought final match against Denmark. After a rousing chant of ‘Kiwi’ just before the start of the final quarter the Wheel Blacks went on to the highest scoring quarter with 15 tries. The final score saw the Wheel Blacks going down by just three points in the end, 53-56, the Wheel Blacks were upbeat. After a 13-year absence from the Paralympic Games and a 2-year halt on international competition due to COVID-19, they have rated the competition experience to be exceptional. With huge learnings comes a sense of purpose; their eyes are firmly on Paris 2024 in just three years’ time. Denmark itself debuted in the Wheelchair rugby competition; this was the Denmark team’s first Paralympic Games ever and like New Zealand, each one of its team members was debuting at the Paralympics as well. The Wheel Blacks finished 8th in the competition overall.
Over the past four days, the Wheel Blacks played World number 2, the USA; World number 4 Great Britain; and World Number 5, Canada; in the Pool rounds – certainly drawing the ‘pool of death’ for this competition. There have been a number of stand-out performances, none more so than from Barney Koneferenisi, a late call-up to the squad who went on to be the top try scorer for New Zealand. He scored 89 points of the 161 the team scored across the four matches played. Barney was humble about this performance, talking often across the past few days about the ability of his team-mates to open up opportunities for an attack.
Barney Koneferenisi said: “It felt really good playing with the guys and to get a few points on the board. We were really overwhelmed by emotions after the haka and just went straight into work mode. It was good to get out there and get some good hits, show them we are not here to play around. If I did not have my low pointers like Cody, Gavin, Gareth opening these avenues for me and then if I have guys on me Hayden and Nafi are there. Without this I would not have been able to get the tries I did. I’m super excited about Paris. This is a stepping stone and where everything starts. We have not had good intensively international competition since before COVID and in my case, since 2014 but now we have played these teams we know we can improve and give them a run for their money.“
Cody Everson said: “WE have finished our Paralympic campaign and every game we got better which is what we wanted to do. It feels great to finish on a high. We didn’t win but we finished strong. We felt like we were in the game the entire time unfortunately we didn’t quite crack them today but there are a lot of positives to take out. I’m so thankful to Paralympics New Zealand, the Wheel Blacks and all the supporters that have been right behind us it means a lot.“
Greg Mitchell (coach) said: “It was great out there and we have built to this. Having missed international competition meant it took us time to build. In the end we showed exactly what we can do and what I know the guys can do. Having that improvement in every game has led us to how we played today. Eberyone is ready for Paris and if we can keep this team together and keep building there are a lot of opportunities. The boys have had a huge experience in Tokyo and they have loved being here, competing together and the support we have had from home has been massive.“
Following COVID-19 safety protocols, the Wheel Blacks will leave the Tokyo 2020 Athlete Village on the 31 August after Paralympian Ben Tuimaseve departed today. He is now winging his way home to New Zealand, for a stint in MIQ lasting two weeks.
What’s on today:
The weekend wraps up with Danielle Aitchison competing in the Women’s 200m T36 Final.
* Please note race times are subject to change by organisers, with limited advance notice.