A rainy day in Tokyo didn’t slow anyone down, as records continued to tumble and teams fought through the knockout stages of competition at the Tokyo Paralympics. Australia added six medals to its tally including a Boccia first, silverware in the tennis and four medallists at the pool.
Dan Michel won Australia’s first individual medal in Boccia, finishing with Bronze in the BC3 Individual event. It is just Australia’s second-ever Boccia medal in Paralympic history, 25 years after Kris Bignall and Tu Huynh won Bronze in the mixed pairs C1 event at Atlanta 1996.
With ramp assistant Ash McClure, Michel beat Great Britain’s Scott McCowan 6-1 to take the third place on the podium.
Michel got out to an early 3-0 lead at the end of the first round, and only extended it across the next two rounds.
After not making it past the pool stage in 2016, Michel improved ahead of the 2018 World Championships and continued that success into his second Paralympic Games.
Also on the BC3 podium was Adam Peska of the Czech Republic, who beat Grigorios Polychronidis of Greece in a tie-break after the pair could not be split at three apiece.
Hidetaka Sugimura made Paralympics history by winning Japan’s first gold medal in Boccia, with a 5-0 victory over Thailand’s Watcharaphon Vongsa in the BC2 classification.
Reigning Paralympic Champion David Smith won gold in the BC1 event for Team GB, defeating Wei Lin Chew of Malaysia 4-2.
Alcott and Davidson settle for silverware
Australian pair Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson hit the court late on Wednesday night for their Quad Singles gold medal match against Netherlands duo Sam Schroder and Niels Vink.
Rain in Tokyo meant all matches had to be crammed onto Centre Court, but despite this weather, the roof was open at the start of the doubles contest.
At three games all in the opening set, the players left the court while the roof was closed and the court dried up.
After the delay, it was the Netherlands’ pair who came out firing. Both teams held service initially, but at 5-4, the Dutch pair broke Australia to take the opening set.
It took until the fourth game of the second set for the first break, but again it was the Dutch duo who hit the lead. In a tight Alcott service game, winner’s off both Schroder and Vink’s racquet secured the break.
Davidson played some long forehands out the back of the court in the following game, allowing Schroder and Vink to consolidate at 1-4.
Alcott and Davidson broke back to make it 3-4, but unfortunately, that’s where the good times ended for the Australians as they fell short of Gold.
The Bronze medal match was also interrupted by rain and rescheduled for after the gold decider. Host nation pair Mitsutero Moroishi and Koji Sugeno defeated Brit’s Andy Lapthorne and Antony Cotterill 2-1.
It took more than three hours out on court, but the duo from Japan broke to win the match 7-5 3-6 7-5.
Sugeno required massage on his left arm in the final set, as the marathon match took a toll on the players’ bodies.
Alcott and Schroder will be back on court for the Singles gold medal match on Thursday, while Vink will feature in the Bronze play-off.
Table Tennis teams through
Australia is through to the gold medal in the Men’s C9-10 Team Table Tennis with a 2-0 victory against Nigeria. It only took two matches for Australia to secure its golden opportunity.
Ma Lin and Joel Coughlan paired up in the opening doubles match, for a 3-1 (12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5) victory over Nigeria’s pair Tajudeen Agunbiade and Alabi Olufemi.
In the first singles contest, Ma Lin won his team through to the final in a thrilling five-game match against Nigeria’s Tajudeen Agunbiade, 3-2.
It was a tight final set, but Ma Lin was able to clinch it 11-8 for his team.
Earlier on Wednesday, Yang Qian sealed the Australian women’s team a spot in the semi-finals after defeating Hungary’s Alexa Szvitacs 3-0.
Australia did not drop a game on its way to a 2-0 victory.
The women continued to show their class in the evening of day eight, with a 2-0 win over China to move through to the gold medal match.
Singles gold medallists Qian Yang and Lei Li Na got Australia off to a strong start with a 3-1 win over Chinese pair Zhao Xiaojing and Xiong Guiyan.
Yang Qian then secured a convincing 3-0 (11-3 14-12 11-4) victory over Zhao Xiaojing to secure Australia a medal. Whether that medal is silver or gold will be decided against Poland on Friday.
The Belles stop ringing
The Aussie Belles have gone down fighting against the reigning gold medallists in the Goalball, a 10-6 loss to Turkey ending their Tokyo 2020 campaign.
The quarter-final contest had barely begun when Turkey scored a goal with its opening shot, taking a 1-0 lead four seconds into play.
Australia levelled things at 1-1 when Meica Horsburgh scored, but Turkey quickly hit back and pushed ahead to a 3-1 lead. The goals kept coming for Turkey and at the end of the first half, it held a four-goal lead (7-3) over Australia.
The Bells staged a great comeback in the second half, scoring three unanswered goals to move within three goals with a minute left on the clock.
Unfortunately for Australia, Turkey’s Kader Celik scored her first goal to make it 10-6 and the four-goal difference was too big of a task for the final 50 seconds.
It had been 25 years since the Aussie Belles last won on the Paralympic stage, and they go home having secured two wins and making it through to the knockout stages of the tournament.
Turkey moves through to the semi-finals where it will face Japan after it beat Israel 4-1.
Brazil secured a place in the other semi-final with a thrilling overtime victory against China. Neither team was able to hit the scoreboard in regular time, but in the dying seconds of the second overtime period, Brazil scored from a penalty for a 1-0 victory.
Brazil now plays the United States for a place in the gold medal match.
Rollers roll out of Tokyo
In quarter-final action on day eight, Australia’s wheelchair basketball team’s Tokyo campaign came to end after a crushing 61-55 quarterfinal defeat against host nation Japan.
It was an evenly matched first quarter as the scores were tied after the first 10 minutes of play, a 14-all scoreline reflective of the teams trading buckets with each other.
The largest lead of the quarter was by four points to Japan before Australian Brett Stibners’ shot on the buzzer levelled the score.
Throughout the second quarter, the Rollers gained their first lead of the game but soon after, Japan proved its dominance to eventually lead by nine points midway through the quarter. Japan’s defensive and offensive efforts proved its ability to thwart any Australian attack, despite the margin being cut to five points by the end of the half.
The second half started without a bucket for over two minutes until Stibners found the net until again, Japan was up to the challenge, going on a run of scores to gain more ascendency on the contest.
Australia never looked out of it despite the margin growing to eight at the final break, coming back to win the fourth quarter though it wouldn’t be enough to overtake its opponents.
The Rollers got to within two points after a 9-2 run before Japan ran away with the game a bit more, making its shots count.
Tom O’Neill-Thorne top-scored for the Rollers with 18 points, including the side’s only three-pointer along with five rebounds, seven assists and five steals whereas Bill Latham shot 11 points.
Japan moves through to play Great Britain after it beat Canada 66-52. In the other semi-final, it’ll be Spain and the United States facing off for places in the medal matches.
More Paralympics News
Australia dives in for more medals
Australia has once again had a strong night at the pool, collecting one silver medal and three bronze medals across the day eight evening session.
Tim Hodge pushed hard in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley SM9 but fell just short of the top spot on the podium. He settled for Silver, 0.52 seconds short of Andrei Kalina of RPC.
Hodge was leading through the first 100m, but through the breaststroke leg Kalina, a breaststroke specialist took the lead and held on until he hit the wall.
Blake Cochrane became a four-time Paralympic medallist when he won Bronze in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke SB7. Carlos Serrano Zarate broke his own Paralympic Record from Rio to take Gold, while RPC’s Egor Efrosinin finished in Silver.
Jesse Aungles also raced in the 100m Breaststroke SB7 final and finished in fourth, six seconds behind Cochrane.
Australia secured another Bronze in the next race, as Tiffany Thomas Kane hit the wall third in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke S7 final. It was her second bronze medal of the Games, following Bronze in the 200m Individual Medley SM7. She has one final race for the meet, the 50m Butterfly S7 on Friday.
Paralympic debutant Thomas Gallagher switched from Surf Lifesaving to Para-Swimming in late-2020 and at Tokyo won Bronze in the Men’s 400m Freestyle S10. The 20-year-old was just four seconds behind the gold medallist Maksym Krypak of Ukraine, while Bas Takken won Silver for the Netherlands.
After only nine months of swimming training heading into Tokyo, Gallagher will only get better and be one to watch in Paris.
Elsewhere in the pool, Canadian Aurelie Rivard beat her own World Record by 5.19 seconds to claim gold in the Women’s 400m Freestyle S10.
New Zealander Sophie Pascoe collected her fourth medal of the meet, Gold in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM9 Final. She still has one more race – the 100m Butterfly S9 – to come.
Karolina Pelendritou won gold in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke SB11 and set a World Record, 13 years after she won her last Paralympic title. Pelendritou was three seconds in front of the record line as she hit the wall at a time of 1:19.78.
China had a podium sweep in the Men’s 50m Freestyle S5. It’s the fourth Chinese sweep at the Games and the third time they’ve taken all medals in the S5 class. Zheng Tao once again won Gold with a Paralympic Record, while Wang Lichao was on the podium for a fifth time this Games.
Sprint time at the track
After a season-best in the morning, Samuel Carter moved through to the Men’s 100m T54 final. Carter improved his season-best to finish in fifth place, with a time of 14.08, in what was an exciting final.
An 18-year-old Thai racer, Athiwat Paeng-Nuea, who dethroned Leo Tahti of Finland who has reigned as the King of the 100m T54 since 2004.
In her first Paralympics since Athens 2004, Eliza Ault-Connell raced through to the 100m T54 final on Wednesday. Unfortunately for Ault-Connell, it was not meant to be in the final, she finished last in the final race but will be back on Thursday for the 400m T54.
Zhaoqian Zhao of China won her second gold medal of the Games in the 100m, after taking out the 1500m T54 event.
Angela Ballard also had a rough final in the Women’s 100m T53, and in an honest assessment post-race, she said she wasn’t racing where she hoped to be in Tokyo. At her sixth Paralympics, Ballard finished seventh to go with her seventh place in the 800m.
She will be back on Thursday for her preferred event, the 400m T53, and looking to make a third final.
In the field, Ari Gesini jumped 5.89m in the Men’s Long Jump T38 final on Wednesday morning. The 19-year-old, who had already raced a 100m sprint heat on the weekend, was a metre and a half off the podium but is an athlete to watch in the future.
Rosemary Little threw a personal best in the F32 Shot Put final to finish in fifth place. Taking gold was Ukraine’s Anastasiia Moskalenko with a new World Record of 7.61m, 0.57m further than the previous record set by Australian Katherine Proudfoot in 2017.
Another day, another record broken
Saeid Afrooz set a new World Record in the Men’s Javelin F34 to take Gold, passing the 40m mark with 40.05m. The previous record stood at 38.23 and was set by Mauricio Valencia, who took home Silver with a season-best of 37.84m. Diego Meneses Medina made it two Colombians on the podium when he took home Bronze.
In the Women’s Discus Throw F41, Raoua Tlili threw 37.91m for a new World Record and added a third gold medal to Tunisia’s Paralympics tally.
There was also a new World Record in the long jump pit, with Zhu Dening of China jumping 7.31m to beat the previous distance by 0.18m. His compatriot Zhong Huanghao jumped a personal best for Silver, while Colombian Jose Lemos Rivas set a new Area Record for bronze.
RPC’s Musa Taimazov won Gold with a World Record Club Throw of 35.42 in the Men’s F51 classification. Zeljko Dimitrijevic took home Silver for Serbia with a personal best distance of 35.29, while Marian Kureja rounded out the podium for Slovakia.
German Markus Rehm made it a hat-trick of gold medals in the Men’s T64 Long Jump, adding to his London and Rio Gold with an 8.18m leap. The 33-year-old’s fifth attempt was his best to secure his third consecutive title.
New records were not limited to the track, Shi Yiting bettered her own World Record by 0.07 seconds as she won Gold for China in the Women’s 100m T36 final.
Andrei Vdovin finished the Men’s 400m T37 in 49.34, a new World Record, to take home Gold for RPC. He improved his own record set in Dubai in 2019 by 1.11 seconds.
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