Posted on Tuesday 31st August, 2021

Highlights from Tokyo today – Day 6:

  • New Zealand’s most decorated Paralympian, Sophie Pascoe (#166), wins a second medal in Tokyo and her 17th Paralympic Games medal – BRONZE in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S9
  • Jesse Reynolds (Paralympian #205) finishes 6th in a very hard-fought Men’s 100m Backstroke S9, after setting a PB (personal best) in the heats and breaking a NZ Record earlier in the day
  • William Stedman (Paralympian #208) won a SILVER medal with an huge jump of 5.64m setting a new Oceania record
  • 5-time Paralympian Michael Johnson (#148) finishes 6th in the R4 – Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2, after qualifying second in the very competitive Shooting Para sport event earlier in the day

Coming up tomorrow – Day 7:

  • Sophie Pascoe is back in her third event of these Paralympics, the Women’s 100m Freestyle S9, after BRONZE today and a SILVER on Day 2. She will be chasing her 18th Paralympic medal.
  • Blade runner Anna Steven will make her Paralympic Games debut in the Women’s 200m T64.
  • Our Para cyclists Anna Taylor, Sarah Ellington and Nicole Murray are back in competition after a great showing on the track earlier in the Games, making the switch to the road for Time Trials.
  • They will be joined by New Zealand’s trike competitors Stephen Hills (Paralympian #196) and debutant, Eltje Malzbender. Hand cyclist, debutant Rory Mead, will also start his campaign.
  • After winning SILVER on Day 6, William Stedman (Paralympian #208) is back for his second event, the Men’s 400m T36.

New Zealand’s most decorated Paralympian, Sophie Pascoe (#166) won her first ever BRONZE medal this evening in Tokyo, in a very competitive Women’s 100m Backstroke S9 final. This newest medal takes her Paralympic medal tally in Tokyo to 2 so far, and an extraordinary 17 in total (9 gold, 7 silver and 1 bronze).

Her medal rounded out a very busy day in Japan, with our Paralympians competing across three different venues, from the Tokyo Aquatic Centre to the Asaka Shooting Range and finally, the Olympic Stadium under lights. It was also a day where Kiwis asked Paralympics New Zealand to clarify the broadcast coverage:

Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of Paralympics New Zealand, explained: “With fans unable to travel to Japan to cheer our Paralympians on in Tokyo, it has meant a huge amount to the New Zealand Paralympic Team to know Kiwis back home are watching and sending messages of heartfelt support. We know that our Paralympians have been giving people enjoyment during the current Level 4 lockdown.

“However, there have also been frustrations for those viewing some of the coverage. TVNZ have a contractual arrangement to take a live feed from the host broadcaster in Tokyo and have sent a small crew and production team to Japan to try to capture as much live reaction from our Para athletes as possible.

“We are disappointed in some of the decisions made in cutting away from events featuring New Zealand Paralympians at important moments, or not showing certain competitions at all. TVNZ created a pop-up livestream on 1news.co.nz to provide other viewing options for events that our Paralympians compete in. The daily highlights show produced by Attitude is showing our Paralympians’ competing at 9am each morning, featuring events from the previous day.

“As a National Paralympic Committee, we believe Para sport can transform lives and therefore Kiwis experiencing the Paralympic Games through the broadcast is critical.“

Para swimming

4-time Paralympian Sophie Pascoe (#166) continued her Tokyo form, adding a BRONZE in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S9 to her SILVER from earlier this week in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke SB8. She finished tonight’s race in a time of 1:11.15, just under 1 sec behind silver medallist Nurai Marques Soto (Spain) and just over 1.5 sec behind the gold medallist, Hannah Aspden (USA). Her win this evening takes her total Paralympic medal haul to a stunning 17 medals across four Games (9 gold, 7 silver and 1 bronze).

Pascoe said: “Yeah I’m not going to lie; it was a really tough time to take in. I have never swum slower in a Paralympic final, ever, but it was a gutsy in the last 25 (metres) and that’s all I could have asked for of myself. Obviously, I went out in a world class 50 (metre) time, which goes to slow that I had it over the first 75 (metres). The girls just came back at me in that last 25 (metres). Look I’m just proud of myself for gutsing it out, keeping the kick compact and keeping the stroke rate up. Tough race but proud to get on the podium and that’s all I wanted. I don’t know if you saw me at the end of the race, I was buggered!“

When asked about adding a bronze to her gold and silver collection she laughed: “First ever bronze medal from a Paralympic Games, so a new colour to add to the collection! We’re calling this one Rosé!“

Pascoe will be back tomorrow for the Women’s 100m Freestyle S9 and again on Day 8 (Wednesday) in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM9 and again, Day 9 (Thursday) in the Women’s 100m Butterfly.

She was upbeat: “This is going to be the hard bit now, getting into these next three events. They are also my three favourite events, all in a row, so big heavy schedule for the next three days. I haven’t done a heavy schedule like this since Rio so it is going to be more challenging that anything I’ve done over the past year, to prove that I can get up on that podium position. And what you saw tonight is that new era of girls that have had that extra year of training, which is exciting. They’re the ones that are chasing me and challenging me and they’re certainly putting on a good show! I love a fight. You saw that in the pool today, and I can dig deep when I need to. And that’s what I will definitely be doing over the next three days.“

Pascoe’s sporting story is well known, with her left leg amputated below the knee at age two in a lawnmower accident. She made her debut at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games securing three gold and one silver medal. Four years later?in London she continued her world class performances winning three gold and three silver medals. At her third Paralympic Games, Rio 2016, she won three gold and two silver medals.

Jesse Reynolds (Paralympian #205) was in the Aquatic Centre for his second Tokyo 2020 event today, finishing 6th in the finals of the Men’s 100m Backstroke S9 in a time of 1:04.60. Reynolds set a PB (personal best) and broke a NZ record with a 1:04:58 time earlier, to finish 3rd in Heat 1 and enter the finals 6th fastest.

As the race played out, the commentators remarked that this was one of the most competitive races the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has yet seen. The top five finishers all touched within just 1.3 seconds of one another. Gold went to Bogdan Mozgovoi (Russian Paralympic Committee) in a time of 1:01.65, with Yahor Shchalkanau (Belarus) taking silver on 1:01.96 and Timothy Hodge (Australia) a bronze, on 1:02.16.

Reynolds said: “It (the race) was really close to the time I went this morning and I was really happy with this morning’s race, so that was good. I definitely planned to go a bit faster tonight and I’m a little bit disappointed that I didn’t quite get that to work. But I gave it everything, there wasn’t any more effort or energy that I could put into that race. And I got top 6, so 6th in the world – can’t complain too much. That time would have got me a silver in Rio so my field’s come a long way since then!

“I’m feeling really good (about the races left on the programme). We’ve done a lot of work on my IM (Individual Medley) which is in two days’ time, so all focus is now on that, and we’ll just be giving it heaps trying to get through to another final.“

A Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games veteran, Reynolds has a limb deficiency and swims in the S9 classification. He was the first kiwi to compete at Tokyo 2020, competing in the Men’s 400m Freestyle S9 on Day 1. He did not qualify for the finals. He will compete again in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley on Day 8 (Wednesday) and the Men’s 100m Butterfly S9 on Day 9 (Thursday).

Shooting Para sport

5-time Paralympian Michael Johnson (#148) finished 6th in the R4 – Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2 Final in Tokyo tonight. The gold went to Philip Jonsson (Sweden), with silver going to Francek Tirsek (Slovenia) and bronze to Andrea Liverani (Italy). The eventual gold and silver medallists leap-frogged the top qualifiers from earlier in the day, showing the truth in Johnson’s observation after qualification that: “in the final, it’s anyone’s game. Some people are good at the qualification and some people are even better at the finals.“

Johnson had an outstanding qualifying round earlier today, finishing second with a total score of 633.7. He was just behind first qualifier and eventual bronze medallist, Andrea Liverani (Italy) on 635.3, and just ahead of third qualifier Vasyl Kovalchuck (Ukraine) on 633.3. The top 8 qualifiers went through to the final tonight.

Johnson said: “I’m feeling disappointed that I couldn’t have come away with a medal and I couldn’t have had some better shots. I had some really good ones! Some 10.8s and 10.7s that were bringing me back in. I’m really glad I wasn’t first eliminated… that (would be) scary. I could see myself getting better and better. Argh. It depends. You’ve got plenty of time to take your shot but if it’s a little wobbly, which it was today, its easy to make mistakes.“

Johnson has two more medal opportunities in Tokyo and will be back in the shooting range on Day 8 (Wednesday) for the R5 – Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2 Qualification and Finals (if qualified) and Day 11 (Saturday) for the R9 – Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH2 Qualification and Finals (if qualified).

Johnson observed: “I always find you need to take these as learning experiences. You’ve just got to realise you’re going to be hot; you’re going to feel horrible, and the conditions are going to be bad, but you’ve just got to go with it you know. I think that’s it. I can’t change anything. I’ll just keep working on the plan I’ve got.

“This is definitely the hottest Paralympics I’ve been to! It’s quite special too, because the Japanese people are just amazing. They’re so kind and so nice and they will do just anything to help you. It’s a testament to the Japanese people, really going above and beyond to make this happen and support us. So huge thanks.“

Johnson has represented New Zealand at five consecutive Paralympic Games, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. He won the gold medal in the R4 – Mixed 10m AR Standing SH2 at Athens 2004 and bronze in the same event at the next two Paralympics (Beijing 2008 and London 2012). Injured in a motor accident aged 22, Johnson returned to university to study a Bachelor of Information Systems before, in his late 20s, he spotted a brochure promoting target shooting and decided to give the sport a go. Johnson is also a coach and loves supporting and developing upcoming kiwi Para athletes.

Para athletics

William Stedman (Paralympian #208) won a silver medal in the Men’s Long Jump T36 at his second Paralympic Games jumping a massive 5.64m on his final jump to rocket into silver medal position. This was a huge personal best and Oceania record. 

Gold medalist Evgeni Torsunov (RPC) set a new Paralympic record with a jump of 5.76m and bronze was won by Roman Pavluk (Ukraine) jumping 5.63m. 

Stedman (Paralympian #208) was just 16 years old when he won two BRONZE medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games five years ago in the Men’s 400m T36 and the Men’s 800m T36. Stedman, who has Cerebral Palsy, has always loved sport. Attending the London 2012 Paralympic Games as a spectator at the age of 12 triggered his dream to represent New Zealand. Just three years later, Stedman competed in his first international event, the 2015 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Brisbane. He was then chosen to represent New Zealand at the 2015 World Para Athletics Championships in Doha, where he achieved three top 10 finishes. As well as his two BRONZE medals at Rio 2016, he also placed 6th in the Long Jump T36.

Stedman said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed that was a massive roller coaster of a competition and I still don’t think it has quite sunk in yet. From those last three rounds it was a real mental battle and I just gave that last jump everything. I actually thought it was a bad jump and thought that was it and then I saw the 5.64 come up on the screen. I’m feeling really elated and I just don’t think it has sunk in yet.“

He continued: “I’ve had a stress fracture for the last few months and we have had to modify training a little bit so I’m stoked to come out and get this. Big shout out to George and Simeon my two coaches they have worked so hard to get me in shape to medal here.“

What’s on tomorrow – Day 7:

Our Para cyclists – Anna Taylor, Sarah Ellington, Nicole Murray, Eltje Malzbender (trike), Stephen Hills (trike), and Rory Mead (hand cyclist) – are out in full force tomorrow as they all take to the Fuji International Speedway competing in their respective road Time Trials.

At the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Sophie Pascoe competes in the Women’s 100m Freestyle S9 event.

At the Olympic Stadium, William Stedman competes in the Men’s 400m T36, and blade runner Anna Steven competes in the Women’s 200m T64 track events.

Para sportEventAthleteNZ Time *
Cycling – roadWomen’s C4 Time TrialAnna Taylor11.30am
Cycling – roadWomen’s C1-3 Time TrialSarah Ellington11.56am
AthleticsWomen’s 200m – T64 Round 1 Heats  Anna Steven1.00pm
Cycling – roadWomen’s C5 Time TrialNicole Murray1.16pm
Cycling – roadMen’s H2 Time Trial (hand cycling)Rory Mead1.16pm
SwimmingWomen’s 100m Freestyle – S9 HeatsSophie Pascoe1.36pm
AthleticsMen’s 400m – T36 Final  William Stedman2.20pm
Cycling – roadWomen’s T1-2 Time Trial (trike)Eltje Malzbender6.37pm
Cycling – roadMen’s T1-2 Time Trial (trike)Stephen Hills6.23pm
SwimmingWomen’s 100m Freestyle – S9 Final (if qualified from Heats)Sophie Pascoe10.14pm
AthleticsWomen’s 200m – T64 Final (if qualified from Heats)Anna Steven10.52pm

* Please note race times are subject to change by organisers, with limited advance notice.

Broadcast information:

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be broadcast in Aotearoa New Zealand. Viewers can catch the action as it happens, non-stop from midday, every day on TVNZ DUKE (Freeview 13, Sky 23 and live streamed, TVNZ OnDemand) together with extensive delayed and highlights coverage. Along with 1 NEWS coverage, a special highlights programme will air every morning at 9am on TVNZ 1 and will be available online via TVNZ OnDemand and AttitudeLive.com. TVNZ flagship programmes, including Breakfast and Seven Sharp, are expected to cover the Paralympics. 

Find out more: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/paralympics/schedule