15 September 2016
Australia’s world No.1 wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott won his second gold for the Paralympic Games while veteran cyclist Carol Cooke defended the title she won in London as Australia performed strongly on the first day of road cycling in Rio.
Cooke was one of six Australian’s to finish on the podium in time trial events on day seven with Kyle Bridgwood taking the silver medal in the C4 class and Alistair Donohoe adding to his silver medal on the track with another runner-up finish in the C5 class.
Hand-cyclist Stuart Tripp claimed silver in the H5 class time trial behind defending Paralympic champion and former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi, who won his fourth Paralympic gold medal on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Champ Car race where he crashed and lost both his legs.
Rounding out the Australian medals on the opening day of road cycling were vision-impaired cyclist Kieran Modra, who took a bronze medal in the B class tandem time trial, together with pilot Dave Edwards and Sue Powell, who won bronze in the women's C4 time trial.
But it was 55-year-old Cooke who was the star of the cycling team completing the time trial in 26 minutes 11.40 seconds, to finish 38 seconds clear of Jill Walsh of United States in the final event of the day.
“I’m still a bit overwhelmed and I’ll probably start crying again because I didn’t actually think when I finished that I won a medal,” said Cooke on the Australian Paralympic Committee website.
“I’m five time world champion in the time trial so you really put a lot of pressure on yourself but I hope everyone still realises that we all put in 100 percent, more than 100 percent, no matter where we place on the day.”
Alcott’s win over Brit Andy Lapthorne gave him his second gold for the games after winning the quad doubles with the Heath Davidson 24 hours earlier.
It took Alcott’s career Paralympic medal haul to four medals (three gold and one silver) after winning medals with the Australian Rollers basketball team in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
“You ask any professional tennis player, able-bodied or not, and they’ll tell you it’s just a relief to be honest,” Alcott said about winning the singles title.
“When you think about it every day, and I go to bed thinking about it, you know what could happen, what happens if you lose, how the match is going to go, so I’ll actually go to sleep a bit easier now,” Alcott added.
World champion sprinter Isis Holt, 15, celebrated her Paralympic debut with a silver medal in the women's T35 100m final. She missed out on gold by just 0.09 seconds to China’s Xia Zhou.
Holt will next contest the women's 4x100m relay on Friday, before she attempts to defend her world record in the 200m on Saturday.
Jody Elkington-Jones took bronze in the T37 long jump competition, landing a jump of 4.30m.
In wheelchair racing, Rheed McCracken claimed his second medal of the Games, taking bronze in the men's 800m T34 classification. Jonathon Milne, Australia’s sole archery athlete in Rio and the first Australian to qualify for the sport at a Paralympics since 2004, also claimed bronze.