German sprinter Felix Streng stormed his way to Paralympic gold in the T64 100 meters in Tokyo on Monday, dethroning British rival Jonnie Peacock who ended up sharing the bronze after a photo finish.
The track thriller saw Streng finish in 10.76 seconds, short of the Paralympic record he set just a day earlier in heats, but ahead of Costa Rica’s Sherman Isidro Guity Guity, who took silver.
After several tense minutes, the decision came back: a shared bronze, with both Peacock and Germany’s Johannes Flores coming in at precisely 10.78 seconds.
The pair beamed as they received their flags to join the other medalists.
“It felt amazing,” Streng said afterward of his win. “I’m so happy that I could execute a race and win in such a competitive field.”
The race was one of the last on the sixth day of competition in Tokyo, with records again tumbling from the track to the pool.
At Tokyo’s Aquatics Centre, 16-year-old Jiang Yuyan won her first Paralympic gold in the S6 50-meter butterfly final, after smashing her own world record in the heats.
“This is my first Paralympic experience and in terms of my personal goals, it’s a self-confidence boost,” the teenager said. “Of course, it’s very exciting. But most of all, I think it’s the beginning of the next chapter of my life.”
Jiang was nearly killed when she was run over by a truck as a 3-year-old, but by 14 she was breaking world records and had earned the nickname “Flying Fish.”
She is the youngest member of China’s Paralympic team, which continues to top the medal table — as it has at every Games since Athens 2004.
Meanwhile, Takayuki Suzuki’s stellar Paralympics continued on Monday, with the 34-year-old swimmer adding a fourth medal to his Games collection, this time a silver in the S4 200-meter freestyle.
Suzuki is now just one short of doubling his total of medals won at the previous four Games in which he has competed, having taken his career total to nine — one gold, one silver and two bronze in Tokyo.
On Monday, he won his silver by finishing behind Israel’s Ami Omer Dadaon by 10.31 seconds, but he can take solace in his strong swim down the stretch that held off a large chasing contingent.
“The time wasn’t my personal best, so in that sense, I’m not satisfied,” said Suzuki, who was born with a congenital limb deficiency. “I do have some regret from the race in that sense, but winning a medal means more.”
He said once Dadaon had gapped him, his mindset changed.
“There was a large gap between us at the 100-meter point, so I didn’t really think of him after that and swam at my own pace.”
Suzuki has one individual race to go, the men’s 50-meter freestyle, to hit the pre-Games target he set of a medal in each.
A little later on Monday, visually impaired swimmer Uchu Tomita won bronze in the men’s 200 SM11 individual medley, claiming the second medal of his debut Paralympics.
Dutchman Rogier Dorsman was the class of the field and won his second gold, but Tomita was able to beat out a large group of competitors to touch third.
Japan’s men’s wheelchair basketball team closed out the group phase with the team’s fourth win, securing second in Group A with a 67-55 win over Turkey.
Hiroaki Kozai was the catalyst in the win, scoring 22 points on 67% shooting, while Reo Fujimoto provided backup scoring with 19 and Renshi Chokai did the dirty work, snagging 14 rebounds and distributing eight assists.
“It was a good game led by our stingy defense. We were able to make an adjustment from the game against Spain, during which we couldn’t defend against well,” said Kozai, referencing the team’s only loss of the Paralympic Games so far.
It was a mixed day for the host nation at the Ariake Tennis Park.
Big-name player Shingo Kunieda advanced past his third-round opponent Ji Zhenxu of China 6-0, 6-1 in the men’s wheelchair tennis WT class singles and Yui Kamiji also cruised, not giving up a game in a two-set destruction of Brazilian Meirycoll Duval in the women’s equivalent.
Momoko Ohtani survived a first-set scare to move past Viktoriia Lvova 7-5, 6-1 in the women’s WT singles second round.
Kunieda backs up later in the evening with Takashi Sanada to play in the men’s doubles quarterfinal.
Sanada had earlier had his WT singles campaign ended in two sets, as did Takuya Miki.
Japan’s five-a-side soccer team fell to a one-win, one-loss record when they came up against the juggernaut Brazil team.
Japan held the South Americans, the winners of every Paralympic gold since the sport’s introduction in 2004, to just one goal in the first half, scored by Raimundo Mendes in the fifth minute, before conceding another five minutes into the second half to Tiago da Silva.
The scoreline perhaps flatters the Brazilians, however, as two of their goals came in the last four minutes, both to Riccardo Alves.
Earlier Monday, International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons paid tribute to two Afghan athletes who escaped from Kabul after the country’s fall to the Taliban this month.
Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrived in Tokyo over the weekend after a complex international effort that saw them evacuated to France where they rested and trained before flying to Japan.
Parsons said Monday that receiving the pair in Tokyo was “a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.”
“It was just incredible to feel that we had contributed in some way,” he added.
Sprinter Rasouli will take part in the men’s T47 long jump on Tuesday having arrived too late for his favored T47 100 meters.
Khudadadi will compete in the women’s under-49-kg K44 taekwondo on Thursday.
Parsons said he hoped the pair would be able to “really focus on sport and forget for a few days at least what they left behind and the horror that they have been through in their home nation.”
Monday also saw the medal ceremony for the winners of the women’s swimming 4×100 meters, which was delayed from Sunday after the U.S. team lodged a protest over their disqualification.
The team thought they had come away with the silver, but the second spot was instead handed to Australia after judges disqualified the U.S. side for an illegal changeover.
Their protest was denied by a referee and an appeal to a jury was also rejected.
Also stepping onto the podium Monday was Francisca Mardones Sepulveda, who became the first Chilean woman ever to win a Paralympic medal in any sport.
The 43-year-old shot putter won the F54 category and broke her own world record with a throw of 8.33 meters.
The Chilean competed at the London and Rio Games in wheelchair tennis, but later switched to athletics, and is competing in shot put, discus and javelin in Tokyo.
“I want to be an inspiration for other girls that will start approaching the sport to become enthusiastic for it,” she said after her win. “I will tell them to believe in their dreams and in themselves, thinking that whatever goal they have, they can achieve it.”
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