Ben Popham has won gold in the Men’s 100m Freestyle S8 with a fast finish, coming home in 57.37 on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
The Perth native claimed gold on his Paralympic debut, on his first night as a Paralympian. Popham started the final as the favourite, after qualifying fastest.
The 20-year-old lived with cerebral palsy, after being diagnosed as an infant. While he has been swimming since he was seven years old, he made his international debut in 2018.
On debut at the Pan-Pacific Para Swimming Championship, Popham won gold in the Men’s 100m Freestyle S8 and was part of the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay (34 points). He’s since represented well at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships as he qualified for Tokyo 2020.
Popham won his heat convincingly, in a time of 58.95 this morning, as one of just four swimmers who finished in under one minute.
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This evening, it was a much tighter finish, as seven swimmers finished under one minute, and first and second were just. a touch apart.
Popham didn’t start well and turned in fifth. He surged late, coming home in the last 30m to swim over the top of the field.
Popham’s finish of 57.37 set him up to take gold, ahead of Andrei Nikolaev from the RPC. Nikolaev’s time of 57.69 was more than a second ahead of Dimosthenis Michalentzakis (GRE), who finished in 58.73.
He just pipped Nikolaev, who finished strongly but led most of the way through the race. His win on debut is just the first of what is set to be a long and decorated Paralympic career.
Popham will now turn his focus to the Men’s 400m Freestyle S8, which kicks off on 31 August, as he seeks to double his gold medal tally.
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