Pascoe completes golden hat-trick for New Zealand at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Highlights from Rio today:
• GOLD – Sophie Pascoe in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S10
• 4th place – Mary Fisher in the Women’s 400m Freestyle S11
• 5th place – Michael Johnson in the R4 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2
• 7th place – Paralympic debutant Greg Reid in the R3 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1
• Anna Grimaldi qualifies for the Women’s 100m T47 in a personal best time (final tomorrow)
Sophie Pascoe completed a golden hat-trick for New Zealand today in Rio, winning the country’s third GOLD medal in as many days as the New Zealand Paralympic Games Team continues to determinedly chase its target of 18 medals, including 12 gold medals. After three days, New Zealand has now secured 7 medals – 3 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze – with seven days of competition remaining.
On Friday, 19-year-old Anna Grimaldi won New Zealand’s first gold in the Women’s Long Jump T47, putting in a mammoth final jump of 5.62m. Last night, Mary Fisher took gold in World Record time in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S11, a feat she was unfortunately unable to replicate in her second event today. Sophie Pascoe completed the hat-trick, with gold in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S10.
Yesterday, Pascoe began her Rio 2016 campaign with a brilliant silver, winning New Zealand’s 200th Paralympic medal with a personal best swim in the Women’s 50m Freestyle S10. Pascoe was narrowly beaten by a World Record breaking swim by her Canadian rival, Aurelie Rivard. In the same hour as Pascoe and Fisher were dominating the pool, Liam Malone ran the race of his life to win silver in the Men’s 100m T44 final. Malone accelerated through the field from 5th to 2nd in the last 30metres, a phenomenal result in an event he quite openly declares is not his favourite. Malone will be one to watch in the Men’s 200m T44 and Men’s 400m T44 in the next few days. Completing the results line up in the 60 minutes the team has nicknamed the “Paralympic Happy Hour“, Rory McSweeney won a bronze in the Men’s Javelin F44 after holding his position, and his nerve, throughout the competition.
The final medal of the 7 to date belongs to Rebecca Dubber, who came from behind to win a bronze medal in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S7 final. Dubber made a slow start and was sixth overall into the turn, before powering up the field from the 25metre mark to touch the wall in third place overall.
As the day draws to a close, the Rio 2016 organisers are certainly enjoying the moment, following several weeks of public financial and logistical challenges. A record crowd of over 167,000 people descended upon the Olympic Park today, breaking the Rio 2016 Olympic Games attendance record.
Sophie Pascoe certainly means business at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, winning her second medal in her second outing in very dominant style – a GOLD in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S10 in a time of 1:07.04, nearly a full second ahead of Bianka Pap (Hungary) and Alice Tai (Great Britain). Pascoe came into the final having qualified fastest. Pascoe’s personal best in this event is 1:05.95.
Pascoe said: “It was pretty tough in the pool tonight. I went out in the first 50m pretty much towards race plan and then the last 50m was hard, and they came back in the last 25. It was just about guts and digging deep. Tonight was about coming out and getting the gold medal and that is exactly what I have done. It has been eight years since I had this gold in my hands so great to finally have this back and to be able to share this moment with family and support staff that have been along the journey every step of the way.“
Mary Fisher by comparison could not replicate yesterday’s stunning form today. She finished just outside the medals in 4th place in the Women’s 400m Freestyle S11. The event was won by Liesette Bruinsma (Netherlands) in 5:15.08, followed by Cecelia Camellini (Italy) and Qing Xie (China). Fisher finished in 5:28.28, bettering her heat by over 5 seconds. Her personal best in this event is 5:18.12.
Fisher said: “I’m really happy with my performance because I could not have gone any faster today. It was an improvement on this mornings heat. It is good to have this one done. To back up from yesterday it was a solid performance. In the 100 backstroke yesterday it just went as much to plan as it could have hoped. And today I gave it may all and kudos to the girls who medalled today.“
The final New Zealand swimmer in today was debutant, Hamish McLean. The 16-year-old had a fantastic morning in his first ever Paralympic Games, setting a personal best time of 34.81 in the Men’s 50m Freestyle S6. McLean finished 19th overall. McLean was a late call-up to the New Zealand Paralympic Games Team following re-allocation of another male slot back in May. His parents recently said they always thought he was targeting the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, but have since found that he firmly had Rio in his sights. McLean will be one to watch for the future.
Today saw a mixed bag of results for New Zealand’s Para-Shooters, with four-time Paralympian and London 2012 flag bearer Michael Johnson finishing in 5th in the R4 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2 event after shooting a 5.8 on his 9th shot. Prior to this, Johnson had been in bronze medal contention. He will go back to review his rifle and ammunition carefully prior to his next event in three days’ time.
Johnson said: “I was feeling good coming out of the qualification round and looking forward to the final. I was putting myself in medal contention by slowly building up. I knew I had a good chance. I went and loaded the pallet and set myself up to aim, pulled the trigger and then looked up to see a score of 5.8, and I could not believe it was me. It was disappointing but then I followed up with a 10.7. Sometimes you can get what are called flyers (stray shots) that can go off and this can be related to the composition of the pallet. The beginning of the final went really well but that is the is the nature of the sport. I have my R5 event in three days so I want to go back review equipment, put some solid training in and focus on my next event.“
Meanwhile, Paralympic debutant Greg Reid finished in 7th place in the R3 – Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1 with a 103.7, after coming into the event ranked number 11 in the world. During qualifying today, Reid (54) came from behind, rocketing through the field from 30th to 7th overall, earning him the place in the final.
Reid said: “This morning’s heat went really well. I started slowly then it just felt like the curtains were open and I took some great shots. I was thrilled to secure a slot in the final with my 7th place in the heat. The final was another step up and the atmosphere was amazing. The final was a very different environment as there must have been a few hundred people in the range. I would have liked to have finished higher up the leader board but to hold my 7th position was a good solid performance.“
Thursday’s gold medallist in the Women’s Long Jump T47, Anna Grimaldi, was back in action today competing in the heats of the Women’s 100m T47. Grimaldi has qualified fifth fastest with the final taking place tomorrow morning, 9.46am NZT. Grimaldi did a personal best in the heat, clocking 12.88.
It was a day for debutants, with Caitlin Dore making her first outing as a fully-fledged Paralympian. Competing in the Women’s Javelin F37, Dore finished 7th overall. 20-year-old Dore only stepped onto the international stage for the first time last year, competing in the 2015 IPC Ahtletics World Championships.
Kate Horan was on track again today, setting a time of 37.750 in the Women’s 500m C4-5. Horan raced tenth and managed to take nearly 2 seconds off her personal best of 39.279, finishing in 6th overall. This incredibly competitive class saw the World Record broken twice in as many minutes, with the lead changing several times. Eventually the gold medal was won by Kadeena Cox (GBR) in 34.598, a new World Record.
Horan said: “I felt pretty because we have been focussing on the pursuit I was not sure how we would go in the sprint. But I understand and get the sprint, it is my natural default setting. I really enjoyed it and just getting out there and going fast for a short amount of time. It’s more up my ally.“
The final Para-Cyclist on the track today was Byron Raubenheimer, setting a time of 5:08.570 in the Men’s 4km Pursuit C4. Raubenheimer finished 10th overall and did not contest the Finals.
WHAT’S ON TOMORROW
Day Three added another Gold to the exceptional medal haul by the New Zealand Paralympic Games Team, with Day Four promising some interesting stories, with the following kiwis in action:
• Para-Cyclists: Emma Foy & Laura Thompson, Amanda Cameron & Hannah van Kampen,
• Para-Swimmers: Sophie Pascoe, Jesse Reynolds
• Para-Athletics athletes: Liam Malone, Anna Grimaldi, Jacob Phillips
– ENDS –
The 31-strong New Zealand Paralympic Games Team will compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games between 8-19 September 2016 NZT, with a mighty global contingent of 4,350 other athletes from 160 countries. The Paralympics is the world’s largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes. New Zealand will contest six Para-Sports, chasing a target of 18 medals in total, including 12 gold medals.
Where can kiwis watch our Paralympians in action?
Views can catch the New Zealand Paralympic Team in action at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by tuning into DUKE on Freeview 13, Sky 23 or online at www.tvnz.co.nz/duke (find daily schedule here: www.tvnz.co.nz/paralympics2016/schedule), by watching the daily highlights programme on TV1 at 9.30pm, or by visiting www.tvnz.co.nz/ondemand/paralympics or https://attitudelive.com/rio-2016-paralympics to watch on demand. Results will also be shown on ONE News, Breakfast and Seven Sharp. Additionally, coverage can be found by visiting the Paralympics website: www.paralympic.org.