18 September 2016
Middle distance runner James Turner and swimmer Rachael Watson broke world records and Australia’s sailors collected two gold medals as Australia cemented a top-five finish at the Rio Paralympics.
Australia added three silver and four bronze to the haul of four gold medals on day 10, with just one day of competition remaining.
Turner, a former footballer identified by athletics because of his speed, took almost three seconds off the T36 800m world record, clocking a blistering 2 minutes 2.39 seconds.
“I thought I’d run fast, but not that fast.,” the 20-year-old said. “I’ve trained in athletics since I was about eight and always been very competitive with my twin sister Hayley. She was always better than me and that pushed me harder to get better.”
Watson, who also has cerebral palsy, set a new world mark in the pool, taking gold with a time of 40.13seconds in the S4 50m.
“I’m extremely overwhelmed and very excited,” Watson said. “It was a really hard race, but to come away with the gold medal is absolutely amazing.”
Australia’s sailors completed a wonderful regatta in Rio, claiming two gold medals and a silver.
Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch won the SKUD18 class, while the Sonar crew of Jonathan Harris, Colin Harrison and Russell Boaden also dominated and claimed gold with a race to spare
“We’ve had quite a few podium hits in the last two and a half years, but this what it’s all about, the Games,” said skipper Harrison. “So it’s great to really crack it for the most important event.
Matt Bugg sailed brilliantly in the final race to move himself to silver in the 2.4m single person keelboat.
Turner’s gold was one of five at the track for Aussies on day 10: Isis Holt, 15, claimed silver in the T35 200m; Madison de Rozario took silver in the T53 800m; while Kath Proudfoot (F36) and Louise Ellery (F32) each snared bronze in the shot put in their respective classes.
Australia’s swimmers finished with 29 medals, including nine gold. Australia’s first gold medallist of the Rio Games, Lakeisha Patterson, claimed her sixth medal of the Paralympics with bronze in the S8 200IM. Katja Dedikind was third in the S13 100m backstroke
It could have been another gold medal for Australia in cycling, but Alistair Donohoe was stripped of victory after crossing the finish line first.
Donohoe and Ukraine’s Yehor Dementyev were clear and sprinting for the finish in the 84km road race, when they crashed. Donohoe returned to his feet and ran across the line, but rules state he needed to have his bike with him. He was relegated to fifth.
“I was unsure I had done the right thing but I just knew I had to get myself across the line and then figure out what to do. I was a bit confused because I’d just crashed,” Donohoe said.
“I’m devastated but I’m not actually in tears because I gave it my best go, it wasn’t my fault, there was nothing I could do about the finish and I did everything in my power to try and win.”