An action-packed day two of the Tokyo Paralympics saw World Records shattered and more medals awarded. China emerged as the outright leader on the medal tally and Great Britain experienced a medal rush. Meanwhile, action in the team sports events created some serious buzz.
Australian cyclists put pedal to the medal
A pair of track cycling medals are heading back to Australia after a successful outing on day two at the velodrome.
In the C2 3000m men’s individual pursuit, Darren Hicks captured silver following a controversial qualification stage.
The disqualification of Ewoud Vromant resulted in Hicks being bumped into the gold medal contention after initially being awarded a place in the bronze medal race.
Belgium’s Vromant did not maintain three points of contact with the bike in qualifying, leading to the disqualification from the final, stripping him of the World Record he’d earned in qualifying.
Hicks’ opponent in the gold medal race, 20-year-old phenom Alexandre Leaute of France, was the pace-setter on the track throughout the entirety of day two.
Not content with a world record time of 3:31.817 in qualifying, the Frenchman shaved a near half-second off in the final to claim gold with a time of 3:31.478.
The silver medal for Hicks (3:35.064) is an incredible achievement by the 36-year-old on Paralympic debut.
Meanwhile, countryman David Nicholas rode to bronze in the C3 3000m men’s individual pursuit. The 29-year-old riding out of Bathurst led all race on the way to a medal finish.
Despite his Spanish opponent Eduardo Santas Asensio coming within a second of the lead, Nicholas powered home in the final 1000m to finish with a time of 3:25.877.
Wheelchair Rugby action heats up
Team USA continued its winning ways with a hard-fought 58-54 win over Canada in their group B pool match of the mixed wheelchair rugby. After a closely contested first half, the Americans pulled away in the third quarter to lead by five going into the final period of play.
Charles ‘Chuck’ Aoki was the standout for the victors, scoring 30 tries in a dominant display. Included in the haul was a remarkable juggling effort on the buzzer to end the third.
The result leaves the three-time gold medal-winning nation well-placed for a semi-final berth heading into tomorrow’s final group B pool match against fellow undefeated side, Great Britain.
After suffering defeat at the hands of Denmark on day one, Australia bounced back with a 50-48 win over France to keep their campaign alive. With the game tied at 36-all heading into the last quarter, the Steelers dug deep to record their first win of the tournament.
Leading by example was captain Ryley Batt who scored half of the team’s total with 25 tries.
In a do-or-die match, Australia will next face Japan on Friday, August 27 (3:00 pm AEST). The host nation scored an impressive 60-51 victory over Denmark to lead group A heading into day three.
Powerlifters raise the bar to claim medals
The first powerlifting medals of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games were awarded on day two with athletes from 11 nations earning a place on the podium.
In the closely contested men’s 49kg final, Jordan’s Omar Sami Hamadeh Qarada and Vietnam’s Le Van Cong both set best lifts of 173kgs. The gold was awarded to the Jordanian however, who entered the competition at a lower body weight.
After winning Indonesia’s first-ever Paralympic powerlifting medal with bronze at Rio 2016, Ni Nengah Widiasih moved further up on the podium to silver in the women’s 41kg competition.
Taking out gold in the event was China’s Guo Lingling, breaking her own World Record twice in the process. The Chinese superstar followed up her third lift of 108kgs with a successful 109kg attempt, a whopping 11kgs ahead of Widiasih.
By finishing third in the same event, Clara Fuentes won Venezuela’s first-ever powerlifting medal at the Paralympics.
In another first, Latifat Tijani of Nigeria picked up gold in the women’s 45kg competition, also improving on her silver at Rio 2016 in the process. The meaning of her triumph was captured in a powerful photo that signifies the true spirit of the games.
Rounding out the medals on day two, Kazakhstan’s David Degtyarev claimed men’s 54kg gold on his Paralympic debut.
China continues to put opponents to the sword
After securing four gold and two bronze medals in the sabre events on day one, China continued their red hot fencing form in the Epee competitions.
In the first medal bout of the day, countrymen Tian Jianquan and Sun Gang squared off for category A bronze. After trailing 1-3 early, Jianquan rallied to secure the medal 15-13 in a close contest.
The corresponding women’s bronze medal bout saw Bian Jing record a 6-5 win over the Russian Paralympic Committee’s Iuliia Maya. China also claimed category A silver after Amarilla Veres of Hungary defeated Rong Jing 15-12 in the gold medal clash.
Rounding out China’s haul in the day’s final bout was Shumei Tan. Her 3-0 win over the RPC’s Viktoria Boykova wrapped up the nation’s fifth wheelchair fencing gold and a stunning tenth medal from eight events at the games.
In fact, China’s only blemish in the day’s medal matches resulted in a breakthrough for another nation. Saysunee Jana’s 15-8 victory over Jongjing Zhou netted Thailand their first medal of the games.
The other gold medal bouts were won by Great Britain’s Piers Gilliver (men’s category A) and the RPC’s Alexander Kuzyukov (men’s category B).
Goalball supremacy in Women’s groups
Two teams in the Women’s goalball group stage have broken away from the pack at the close of day two.
Turkey backed up its 7-1 victory over Japan with a thrashing of Egypt 12-2. The result puts them firmly at the top of Group D with a remarkable positive 16 goal difference.
In the final match of the day, Canada defeated Israel 6-2, leaving the RPC (who narrowly defeated China 4-3) as the only undefeated team in Group C. A goal difference of 7 still holds Israel in a solid spot after two games, though.
Belgium, the United States and Ukraine all recorded wins in the Men’s matches, while Algeria and Lithuania played out a thrilling 7-7 draw.
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Australia continues to pool swimming medals, World Records tumble
Following up on a day one that saw a return of four golds was always going to be a challenge. Our Australians were up to the task, however, winning a pair of bronze medals.
The first of these was in the Women’s SB9 100m breaststroke final, where 18-year-old Keira Stephens finished behind Dutch pair Chantelle Zijderveld and Lisa Kruger. When put into context, the achievement is a very special one.
Not only did Zijderveld exit the pool with gold, but her victory also marked the second time in which she broke her own World Record in the discipline for the day.
Entering Tokyo 2020 with the record of 1:11.95, Zijderveld raised the bar in the morning’s heats to qualify for the final with 1:11.23. Not resting on her laurels, the 20-year-old swam an even faster final at 1:10.99.
In what must have felt like lightning striking twice, Australian Katja Dedekind also claimed bronze behind a dual World Record setting athlete.
American sensation Gia Pergolini secured gold in the Women’s S13 100m backstroke, breaking her own record of 1:05.05 in the process. Still, in her teens, the 17-year-old Pergolini swam a time of 1:04.64 in the final, 1.46 seconds ahead of Italy’s Carlotta Gilli in second.
The most breathtaking swim of the day came through fellow American Anastasia Pagonis, though. Her time of 4:54.49 in the Women’s S11 400m freestyle smashed the Paralympic record by a near four seconds and her own World record by a second and a half.
Rollers (fast) break away from wheelchair basketball rivals
The Australian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team has gotten off to an emphatic start in their campaign, defeating the Islamic Republic of Iran 81-39.
Brett Stibners was the star of the show, leading the Rollers with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in a solid all-around performance.
The 42 point win sees Australia sit atop group B after the opening round of play. They will look to keep building momentum when they take on Algeria on Friday, August 27 (10:00 am AEST).
Great Britain and the United States also got off to winning starts in the group. The Brits were too classy in a 27 point win over Algeria, while Team USA finished three points ahead of Germany.
In Group A, Spain has announced itself as the competition leader with a 37 point win over Canada. The victory comes on the back of a 65-53 defeat of South Korea to remain undefeated.
Meanwhile, the Australian Gliders have been handed a second loss in as many days in their Women’s group A match.
Despite a spirited effort from Amber Merritt (27 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists), the Australians were no match for their German opponents, going down 77-58.
The Gliders will next meet Great Britain, who was defeated 54-48 by unbeaten hosts Japan, on Saturday, August 28 (9:30 pm AEST).
Great Britain ‘hot-to-trot’ in dressage competition
With the first medals on offer in equestrian, Great Britain stamped their authority by picking up a third of them.
Lee Pearson got the ball rolling for the Brits in the Grade II individual dressage test. His score of 76.265 was enough for a first-place finish, ahead of Austrian rider Pepo Puch (73.441) and teammate Georgia Wilson (72.765), who claimed bronze.
Great Britain also secured a silver in the Grade V individual dressage test, where Sophie Wells (74.405) finished behind Belgian Michele George’s gold-medal-winning score of 76.524.
Sanne Voets of the Netherlands took out the final available gold with a score of 76.585 in the Grade IV individual dressage test final.
Australia’s highest place for the day came through Amelia White who finished eighth in the Grade V event
Australians bounce into table tennis finals
Three Australian’s have qualified for the finals of their respective Para-table tennis singles competitions.
Li Na Lei’s come from behind 3-1 win over South Korean Kun-Hea Kim has resulted in a top place finish in group B of the Women’s C9 singles. With the result, Lei has booked a place in Saturday’s semi-finals.
After a 3-0 triumph over Joshua Stacey of Great Britain on day one, four-time Paralympic champion Ma Lin continued his dominance of Men’s C9 group C.
Further, 3-0 wins against Mohamed Kalem of Italy (11-4, 11-6, 11-9) and Malaysian Chaoming Chee (11-5, 11-6, 11-7) secured his advancement to the quarter-finals.
Lin will now meet Ukraine’s Lev Kats on Friday, August 27 (9 pm AEST).
In Women’s C6 singles action, Rebecca Julian’s 3-0 defeat of Egypt’s Hanaa Ahmed Hammad (11-6, 11-7, 11-3) also booked a quarter-final berth.
Awaiting her is Maliak Alieva of the RPC on Friday, August 27 (7:40 pm AEST).
If the first two days have been entertaining, then a tidal wave of action is on offer on day three. Athletics, judo, archery and wheelchair tennis all commence, while wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and goalball will all start to reach the pointy end of their group stages.
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