First by a second: De Rozario claims T54 marathon gold

Madi de Rozario claimed Paralympic gold. (Photo: Paralympics/Twitter)

Australian Madison de Rozario has finished her Tokyo 2020 campaign on a high, clinching gold by just one second and setting a Paralympic record in the women’s T54 marathon. She becomes the first Australian woman to win a Paralympic marathon.

De Rozario and her fellow T53 athletes were grouped in with the T54 athletes competitors for this race.

The USA’s Susannah Scaroni set the pace early and, by the 10km split, led by almost a minute.

This set the tone for a bulk of the race, as a group of seven led by Switzerland’s Manuela Schaer and de Rozario gave chase.

By the halfway mark, de Rozario was one minute and 16 seconds behind race leader Scaroni with a time of 48:05 minutes.

The group chasing the Tokyo 2020 5000m gold medallist dropped to five: de Rozario, Schaer, USA’s Tatyana McFadden, Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida, and the Netherlands’ Nikita den Boer.

They worked together on the wet roads to dissolve Scaroni’s lead, the group of five overtaking her after she had led for about an hour and a half.

Moments before entering the stadium for the final 400m, de Rozario powered up the hill to snatch the lead ahead of world record holder Schaer and den Boer.

While she established a small gap, her podium-mates pushed her once inside the stadium.

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The final 400m of racing, in particular the last 150m, was heart-in-your-mouth stuff.

Schaer closed the gap between her and de Rozario, her front tire almost lining up with de Rozario’s back wheels heading into the last bend.

In any other situation, a packed stadium would have been roaring as this point.

But de Rozario found an extra spark within herself which fuelled her to the finish line, pulling ahead of Schaer again to claim her second gold medal of Tokyo 2020 by just one second.

She set a new Paralympic record in the process with a time of 1:38.11, shaving 33 seconds off the previous record set by China’s Lihong Zou at Rio 2016.

It was 1.11 seconds better than her previous personal best and about three seconds behind Schaer’s world record set in 2019.

Den Boer finished third, five seconds behind de Rozario.

Australian racer Christie Dawes finished strongly to place eighth, and fellow Aussie Eliza Ault-Connell ended up 13th.

The T54 Marathon gold is de Rozario’s third medal of Tokyo 2020; she collected gold in the T53 800m and bronze in the T54 1500m.

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