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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics briefing: 27th heaven for Perales, first Sri Lanka gold


Today in a nutshell: China dominate in the pool, Spain’s Teresa Perales claims an incredible 27th Paralympic medal, there’s a dead heat in the T64 100 metres, and tributes are paid to former IOC president Jacques Rogge.

Tomorrow’s key moments: Time trial cycling takes place on the Fuji International Speedway track, the women’s wheelchair basketball reaches the quarter-final stage, and the athletics and swimming offer 35 gold medals between them.

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People walk by the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics logo at a metro station in Tokyo.
People walk by the 2020 Paralympics logo at a metro station in Tokyo. Photograph: Androniki Christodoulou/Reuters

The swimming pool belonged to China today, as in the space of half-hour they won four golds, including a one-two in the men’s 50m butterfly S6 final and a clean sweep of the podium in the men’s S5 50m backstroke. Half an hour after that, Ma Jia and Cai Liwen added another one-two in the women’s 200m individual medley SM11 final. In the midst of all that, 16-year old Jiang Yuhan became the youngest Paralympian to win gold. She finished ahead of Ireland’s Nicole Turner, who won the silver medal in the women’s 50m butterfly S6.

Expressing some disappointment that she hadn’t bettered her time in the heats, Jiang said after the race: “I think it’s the fact we hate to lose. We are always driven to improve, to be better, faster, stronger. I think it’s that spirit that is crucial to our success.”

Ma Jia of China competes during the women’s 200m individual medley SM11 final.
Ma Jia of China competes during the women’s 200m individual medley SM11 final. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Italy also had a good morning in the pool – there were golds for Arjola Trimi and Carlotta Gilli, and the men’s 4x100m 34 points freestyle relay team took silver behind Australia and ahead of Ukraine.

Gold medalists Rowan Crothers, William Martin, Matthew Levy and Ben Popham of Australia celebrate on the podium.
Gold medalists Rowan Crothers, William Martin, Matthew Levy and Ben Popham of Australia celebrate on the podium. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

On the track, Andrew Small won gold in the men’s 100m T33 final for Britain, beating the favourite from Kuwait, Ahmad Mutairi. ParalympicsGB’s Harri Jenkins won bronze, with compatriot James Freeman fourth. Small powered off to such a start that he “bounced” the wheelchair a few times. Afterwards he said “It’s all a bit of a blur, but a lot of fun.”

Andrew Small on his way to gold.
Andrew Small on his way to gold. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Jonnie Peacock of Britain couldn’t defend his men’s 100m T64 title, but in a ludicrously tight finish he earned bronze in a dead heat with Germany’s Johannes Floors. Costa Rica’s Sherman Isidro Guity Guity went one-hundredth of a second faster than the pair, and in turn Felix Streng of Germany took gold two-hundredths of a second ahead of him. He seemed pleased.

Felix Streng definitely enjoying the moment in the Japan National Stadium.
Felix Streng, definitely enjoying the moment.. Photograph: Bob Martin for OIS/PA

Three events and three gold medals for Sir Lee Pearson at the Tokyo Equestrian Park, and even more satisfying to do it on a horse, Breezer, that he has trained and brought through himself. Pearson described it as “probably the best test we’ve ever done” as he took gold in the grade II dressage individual freestyle test. It was a busy final equestrian day and there were also golds for Sanne Voets (Netherlands, grade IV), Michele George (Belgium, grade V), Tobias Thorning Jorgensen (Denmark, grade III) and Roxanne Trunnell (USA, grade I). There were also British medals for Natasha Baker with silver in the grade III and bronze for Georgia Wilson in grade II.

Lee Pearson and Georgia Wilson after their equestrian events had concluded in Tokyo.
Lee Pearson and Georgia Wilson after their equestrian events had concluded in Tokyo. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

And in some news away from the Games, former International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has died aged 79. Rogge, spent 12 years as IOC president having competed at three Olympics for Belgium as a sailor in 1968, 1972 and 1976.

Jacques Rogge shows the name of the city of Tokyo elected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Jacques Rogge announced Tokyo’s successful 2020 bid in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AP

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The briefing’s picture of the day

I put the commentator’s curse on Slovakia’s Radoslav Malenovsky and Veronika Vadovicova yesterday by tipping them in the shooting. He came fifth, she came fourth. I don’t suppose I’ll be on their Christmas card list. The men’s SH1 100m air rifle gold went to China’s Dong Chao, while the equivalent women’s event was won by Avani Lekhara. The 19-year-old became the first woman from India to win a shooting Paralympics gold medal. Sweden’s Philip Jonsson won the mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2 final.

India’s Avani Lekhara on the range in the women’s 10m AR standing SH1 final.
India’s Avani Lekhara on the range in the women’s 10m AR standing SH1 final. Photograph: Joe Toth for OIS/PA

You can find all the best pictures from today’s Paralympics in our day six gallery.

🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 The hosts and beyond

India scored two medals in the men’s F46 javelin, but despite setting a new personal best beating his own world record, Rio champion Jhajharia Devendra had to concede victory to Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Priyan Herath Mudiyanselage who also set a new world record with a throw of 67.79m. It is Sri Lanka’s first ever gold at the Paralympic Games.

Gold medallist Dinesh Priyan. Herath Mudiyanselage of Sri Lanka celebrates next to a scoreboard after setting a new world record.
Gold medallist Dinesh Priyan. Herath Mudiyanselage of Sri Lanka celebrates next to a scoreboard after setting a new world record. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Brazil beat Japan 4-0 in their football five-a-side group A match today. That books a semi-final. Japan now face China tomorrow at 9am at the Aomi Urban Sports Park , knowing a draw will be enough to take them through, too. Argentina qualified from group B with a win today. Tomorrow’s match between Morocco and Spain will decide the other spot from that group – Spain need the win to progress.

Angel Deldo Garcia of Team Argentina controls the ball during the preliminary round group B match.
Angel Deldo Garcia of Team Argentina controls the ball during the preliminary round group B match. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Brazil’s Elizabeth Rodrigues Gomes set a new world record in winning the women’s F53 discus. The other podium places both went to Ukraine, with Iana Lebiedieva and Zola Ovsii finishing second and third.

Unstoppable Ihar Boki claimed his fifth Paralympic gold medal of these games in the pool after winning the 200m individual medley SM13 with a world record time. Rogier Dorsman also set a world record while winning the men’s 200m individual medley SM11 – a mistimed tap on the Dutch swimmer’s head had cost him a medal the other day.

Rogier Dorsman powers his way to gold.
Rogier Dorsman powers his way to gold. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Spain’s Teresa Perales won silver in the women’s 50m backstroke S5 event. Incredibly, it is her 27th Paralympic swimming medal – she first competed in Sydney in 2000. Perales still has some way to go if she is to catch the all-time record holder: US swimmer Trischa Zorn, who has 41 medals.

Canada’s Tristen Chernove won silver last week in the men’s individual pursuit, but has withdrawn from tomorrow’s road cycling races. A statement from the Canadian Paralympic Committee said: “Being officially reclassified from C2 to C1 after the individual pursuit was a clear indication to him that it was time to shift his focus from elite sport back to his family and led to his decision to retire with immediate effect.”

Silver medalist Tristen Chernove’s career has come to an end.
Silver medalist Tristen Chernove’s career has come to an end. Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 ParalympicsGB update

Phoebe Paterson Pine justified the hopes pinned on her by claiming gold in the women’s individual compound archery this morning. The 23-year-old, who has spina bifida, knocked out teammate and defending champion Jess Stretton along the way. “I’m really bad at maths so I had no idea what I actually needed,” Paterson Pine said afterwards. “I saw I shot an eight and was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I shot an eight. That’s horrible’. And then I realised I needed that to win and thought, ‘Maybe that’s not too bad.’”

Phoebe Paterson Pine competes in the women’s individual compound
Phoebe Paterson Pine competes in the women’s individual compound Photograph: Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

Louise Sugden won a bronze in the -86kg women’s powerlifting category which was won by Nigeria’s Folashade Oluwafemiayo. Loveline Obiji also picked up a silver for Nigeria in the women’s +86kg, while Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar won a first medal at these games for Mongolia with gold in the men’s -107kg. Mongolia have only ever won four Paralympics medals – and he has got two of them, having won bronze in Rio.

Mongolia’s Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar competes during men’s -107kg powerlifting final.
Mongolia’s Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar competes during men’s -107kg powerlifting final. Photograph: Kiichiro Sato/AP

🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Australia update

Australian Rheed McCracken overcame a rib injury to snare a silver medal for the third Paralympics in a row in the men’s T34 wheelchair 100m. 36-year-old Tunisian Walid Ktila crossed the line first in a Paralympic record time of 15.01 seconds, with McCracken second and Mohamed Alhammadi from the UAE in third.

Austin Smeenk, Walid Ktila, Mohamed Alhammadi, Rheed McCracken and Ahmed Nawad compete in the men’s 100m T34 final.
Austin Smeenk, Walid Ktila, Mohamed Alhammadi, Rheed McCracken and Ahmed Nawad compete in the men’s 100m T34 final. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Having won gold medals representing China in 2004, 2008 and 2012, Lei Lina has repeated the feat in the table tennis representing Australia. Yang Qian similarly has added a gold for Australia to her record of competing at the Paralympics for China.

Qian Yang of Australia serves during her final.
Qian Yang of Australia serves during her final. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Team USA update

Not as dominant as China, but there was still a good return for Team USA in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre today. Mallory Weggemann and Hannah Aspden both won their events, and there were silver medals for Colleen Young and Leanne Smith. TikTok star Anastasia Pagonis added a bronze to her earlier gold, and there were also third-placed finishes for Elizabeth Marks and Julia Gaffney. Gaffney squeezed McKenzie Coen into fourth place in their 100m backstroke S7 battle.

Hannah Aspden reacts after winning the final of the women’s 100m backstroke S9 swimming event.
Hannah Aspden reacts after winning the final of the women’s 100m backstroke S9 swimming event. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

It was a quieter day for the USA in track and field though, Hagan Landry finished with a silver medal in the men’s F41 shot put, behind Bobirjon Omonov of Uzbekistan, and that was the only US medal.

Key events for Tuesday 31 August

All events are listed here in local Tokyo time. Add an hour for Sydney, subtract eight hours for Wolverhampton, 13 hours for New York and 16 hours for San Francisco.

🌟If you only watch one thing: 8am and 1.30pm Road cycling – there’s set to be an absolutely spectacular morning of time trial racing at the same F1 circuit that was used as the venue for the Olympics. It makes for great TV. From 8am there’s a time trial session that will see twelve gold medals awarded – seven for men and five for women. Sarah Storey, Jaco van Gass, Fin Graham and Ben Watson will all be hoping to add to their already successful Paralympics. The good news? There’s a second session that starts at 1.30pm, and that one features another seven races. So, if like me you are a cycling freak and in the UK, that means you can go to bed watching cycling time trials, then wake up super-early and watch more cycling o/ 🥇

  • 9am Archery – a long day of competition in the Yumenoshima Final Field, with the final of the men’s individual compound coming at 1.35pm and the final of the women’s individual W1 contest at 8.42pm 🥇

  • 9am Wheelchair basketball – the women’s competition reaches the knock-out stage. The first match of the day features a disappointed Australia squad in the 9th/10th place play-off with Algeria, and then it is on the quarter-finals. Canada take on a misfiring US outfit, followed by unbeaten Germany v Spain. It’s then a tough ask for the British women. They qualified for the next stage despite winning only one of their pool matches, and Great Britain are up against an unbeaten China. The Netherlands against the hosts Japan completes the quartet, with matches running all through the day.

  • 9.30am and 7pm Athletics – two sessions as usual, 24 medals to be one. From 7.52pm to 8.56pm there’s an incredible set of women’s finals, including three varieties of 100m, a 200m, a 400m and the T54 1500m 🥇

  • 9.30 Shooting – another day at the Asaka Shooting Range features the women’s 10m pistol SH1 final at noon, and the men’s 10m pistol SH1 final at 2.30pm 🥇

  • 10am and 4.30pm Table tennis – if you like quarter-finals, have I got news for you. There’s thirty-three table tennis quarter-finals on Tuesday. Yes, I know thirty-three is a weirdly specific and uneven number, but I’ve counted three times. Thirty-three.

  • 10.45am and 4pm Boccia – there’s almost a whole day’s worth of individual quarter-final contests in the boccia to, and then by 5.15pm we are at the semi-final stage

  • 1.15pm Goalboal – the men’s contest has reached – you guessed it – the quarter-final stage. The opening match sees the hosts Japan against China, then 2016 silver medallists the USA face Ukraine at 3pm, defending champions Lithuania take on Belgium at 5.45, and Rio bronze medallists Brazil will play Turkey at 7.30pm.

  • 5pm Swimming – the evening session features 14 finals again today, and ends with the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay 49 points final 🥇

As it stands

Here’s how the emoji table stood at 11pm Tokyo time.

1 🇨🇳 China 🥇 54 🥈 35 🥉 30 total: 119
2 🇬🇧 Great Britain 🥇26 🥈 20 🥉 22 total: 68
3 ◻️ Not Russia 🥇19 🥈 11 🥉 31 total: 61
4 🇺🇸 USA 🥇 18 🥈 19 🥉 12 total: 49
5 🇺🇦 Ukraine 🥇 12 🥈 27 🥉 15 total: 54
6 🇧🇷 Brazil 🥇 12 🥈 8 🥉 15 total: 35
7 🇦🇺 Australia 🥇 11 🥈 17 🥉 14 total: 42
8 🇮🇹 Italy 🥇 10 🥈 11 🥉 13 total: 34
9 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🥇 10 🥈 8 🥉 6 total: 24
10 🇧🇷 Azerbaijan 🥇 9 🥈 0 🥉 4 total: 13

Get in touch

So far I’ve been able to get away without running a regular errata column down in this section, but I owe an apology to Ireland’s Ellen Keane. Yesterday I said that Jason Smyth had won Ireland’s first gold medal of the Games, forgetting that on Thursday I had already written at length about Keane’s victory in the SB8 100m breaststroke which actually was Ireland’s first gold. I can only plead stupidity and apologise.

I do feel like the Paralympics is so huge that I have hardly watched, read or written about anything else for over a week now and I still can’t keep across it all. Yesterday’s programme featured 62 gold medals, which also means 62 silver medals and more than 62 bronze medals, because some sports like table tennis award two bronzes to the losing semi-finalists. If I’d mentioned them all, and still kept the briefing down to my target of about 2,000 words*, that would have allowed me to write just about 10 words per medal. At least there were only a mere 55 gold medals up for grabs today!

You can get in touch with me at martin.belam@theguardian.com, I love hearing from you – even if it is pointing out my mistakes and omissions. We’ll have more tomorrow – take care and stay safe.

[*Hollow laugh from my editors who have never seen a Paralympics briefing close to being as short as 2,000 words]

The last word

Eleanor Robinson of Great Britain poolside in Tokyo.
Ellie Robinson of Great Britain poolside in Tokyo. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for New Zealand Paralympic Committee

I was diagnosed with Perthes disease in my right hip. I’ve spoken to physios in the past year and they were saying we have no idea how you even carried on swimming. I came here, I made the final, and I’m still in the top five. In the past year, I was in a really low point in my life, and I was struggling so much. I was seeing a psychiatrist. I was on medication. It’s been one of the hardest years of my life. People have been saying it’s okay to finish. It’s fine. You don’t have to carry on. And I said I am not finishing this way. It’s not going to end this way. Now I can walk away, and even though I didn’t medal, I can still say that I ended on my own terms. I went out the way that I wanted to. I was saying, if I have to go to the block on my hands and knees, I will do it. And I’m just so proud of myself, because I’ve been in agony this whole year. And this is a story of triumph, this is not a story of defeat. – Britain’s Ellie Robinson, who finished fifth today in the women’s 50m butterfly S6, explaining how she overcome mental and physical health problems in order to still compete at Tokyo 2020.



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