Team GB’s Olympians set a high standard for their Paralympic teammates to follow in Rio but that didn’t phase them as they kicked off their competition in true medal-winning style.
Here’s my two day summary of GB’s opening days at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Thursday September 8th
Team GB’s Paralympians decided not to take a leaf out of their Olympic teammates book when it came to the first day of their games.
Whereas GB’s Olympic team failed to earn any medals on their opening day, the Paralympic team got off to a golden start, finishing the day with 11 medals to their name (5 of which were gold).
That is the only way in which the two teams differed, however, for it was a day of great success in two of the sports GB’s Olympics team excelled in last month – track cycling and swimming.
It was an all GB final in the Gold medal race of the Women’s C5 3000m Individual Pursuit where Dame Sarah Storey beat Crystal Lane to defend her title from London 2012 and go into the history books as this nation’s greatest ever female Paralympian.
Her Gold was the 2nd of the night for GB over in the velodrome, as shortly beforehand Megan Giglia claimed a win in the C1-2-3 3000m Individual Pursuit. This was Giglia’s first ever Paralympic games, having not been disabled when the Games were in London 4 years ago. The Golden haul in the velodrome was finished off by cyclist Steve Bate as he and pilot Adam Duggleby rode to success in the Men’s B 4000m Individual Pursuit.
Over in the Aquatics Centre GB had a phenomenal first day of the Games, beating their total haul from the Rio Olympics in a matter of hours.
Oliver Hynd was the first GB swimmer to claim Gold in the pool, surpassing his previous achievement of silver in the Men’s S8 400m Freestyle that he claimed back in 2012. In doing so, he became the second man in his family to win Gold in that event after his brother did the same in Beijing 8 years ago.
Six other medals were won in the pool on that first day of the games, another of which was Gold after swimmer Bethany Firth set a new World Record in the Women’s S14 100m Backstroke. Fellow GB teammate Jessica Jane Applegate came in 4 seconds behind Firth to claim the Bronze.
Harriet Lee and Jonathan Fox both won Silver in their respective events, being pipped to the post by very small margins. Likewise, Stephanie Millward and Andrew Mullen both completed their events in great times to walk away with Bronze and complete GB’s impressive first day tally of 11 medals.
As it happened…
- 16:30 : GOLD (Megan Giglia) C1-2-3 3000m Individual Pursuit (Track Cycling)
- 17:12 : GOLD (Sarah Storey) C5 3000m Individual Pursuit (Track Cycling)
- 17:12 : SILVER (Crystal Lane) C5 3000m Individual Pursuit (Track Cycling)
- 17:38 : GOLD (Steve Bate) Men’s B 4000m Individual Pursuit (Track Cycling)
- 17:44 : GOLD (Oliver Hynd) Men’s S8 400m Freestyle (Swimming)
- 17:54 : BRONZE (Stephanie Millward) Women’s S8 400m Freestyle (Swimming)
- 18:12 : SILVER (Harriet Lee) Women’s SB9 Women’s 100m Breaststroke (Swimming)
- 19:11 : GOLD (Bethany Firth) Women’s S14 100m Backstroke (Swimming)
- 19:11 : BRONZE (Jessica-Jane Applegate) Women’s S14 100m Backstroke (Swimming)
- 19:59 : BRONZE (Andrew Mullen) Men’s S5 200m Freestyle (Swimming)
- 20:32 : SILVER (Jonathan Fox) Men’s S7 100m Backstroke (Swimming)
TOTAL MEDALS = 11 – (5) GOLD (3) SILVER (3) BRONZE
Favourite medal moment of the day = Sarah Storey’s win in the C5 3000m Individual Pursuit that marked her as GB’s greatest ever female Paralympian with a record 12 Gold medals.
Friday September 9th
After an amazing first day at the games, GB decided they wanted to outdo their performance from yesterday and ended up finishing the night with an additional 16 medals to add to their tally.
It all kicked off early on in Rio when Sophie Thornhill took to the velodrome with pilot Helen Scott to claim GB’s first medal (and first Gold) of the day. Their success was one of several for the former home nation in the track cycling, with Louis Rolfe going on to win Bronze in the Men’s C2 3000m Individual Pursuit later on in the day.
Jody Cundy was by far the main attraction in the velodrome, though, as he looked to redeem himself after his unfortunate disqualification in London 4 years ago.
For those who don’t know, Cundy had failed to compete in the final in 2012 when he’d stopped the race as soon as it had started. He’d felt there was a technical problem with either the bike or the starting block, but officials had later deemed it the rider’s error, and therefore Cundy was not allowed a restart. Upon hearing this, the emotion all got to him and he had a foul-mouthed outburst that, to date, is probably what he is most well known for.
Cundy wanted to put that all behind him by sailing to victory in the time trial, and that’s exactly what he did. With a lead of almost 2 seconds, he claimed Gold and set a new Paralympic record, safely putting the demons of 2012 behind him.
Alongside the cycling it was another great day for GB in the pool as a further four medals were won, one of which was Gold for 15 year old Ellie Robinson. Her dramatic entrance where she donned a massive coat and put her arms up to the crowd will probably be one of the most memorable moments of these games for GB. The confidence she exuberated as she walked in was certainly not misplaced as she beat Ukranian silver medalist Oksana Kruhl by almost a second in the Women’s S6 50m Butterfly.
Ellie’s win in the pool followed shortly after Susannah Rodgers won Bronze in her 50m Freestyle event, and preceeded another Bronze by Lewis White in his 400m Freestyle race. Stephanie Slater finished the night in the Aquatics Centre with a Silver in the Women’s S8 100m Butterfly.
But despite incredible success on the track and in the pool (as well as an amazing Bronze and Silver for Zoe Newson and Ali Jawad respectively in the Powerlfiting), it was the Athletics that proved to be the real star sport for GB on Friday. With a Bronze and Silver on the field earlier on in the day when Gemma Prescott and Stef Reid competed in the Club Throw and Long Jump respectively, the evening was all about the track.
Georgina Hermitage started things off in spectacular fashion when she won the Gold in the Women’s T37 100m. Another first-time Paralympian at Rio, Georgina was inspired to compete following the birth of her daughter a few years ago.
Her win also came as the 2nd Gold in nine minutes following Jody Cundy’s success in the velodrome just before. Sophie Hahn completed that trilogy on the track straight after as she raced for the Gold in the Women’s T38 100m. Cyclist and runner Kadeena Cox also competed in the same event and took the Bronze, making it 4 medals in less than 10 minutes for Team GB.
The final two medal hopes for GB on the track were some of the most hotly-anticipated on friday, with Libby Clegg and Jonnie Peacock hoping to secure more Golds for the previous Paralympic host nation.
Earlier on in the day, Libby Clegg’s performance in the heats was surrounded by controvery after her World Record paced run was disqualified as a result of her guide Christopher Clarke apparently outpacing her and pulling her forward. An appeal was put in by Team GB that was ultimately accepted and Clegg was reinstated for the final, but with all the drama surrounding her qualification there was concern it could affect her performance.
Thankfully, that was not the case.
Clegg and Clarke went on to take Gold in one of the closest finishes so far in these Games as she beat China’s Guohua Zhou by .02 seconds.
The time difference wasn’t quite as close when reigning champion Jonnie Peacock took to the track. He too ended up scoring Gold in a new Paralympic Record of 10.81 with second place going to New Zealand’s Liam Malone in a time 0.21 seconds longer than Peacock’s. There was a great deal of excitement surrounding this event, with American Jarryd Wallace tipped to be Peacock’s main competition. This, however, turned out not to be the case when Wallace finished half a second behind Peacock to finish in fifth position.
After a great first two days out in Rio, I can only hope that this medal haul keeps progressing at this same amazing pace.
As it happened…
- 10:00 : GOLD (Sophie Thornhill) Women’s B 1000m Time Trial (Track Cycling)
- 10:00 : BRONZE (Zoe Newson) Women’s -45kg (Powerlifting)
- 10:03 : BRONZE (Gemma Prescott) Women’s F32 Club Throw (Field Athletics)
- 10:45 : SILVER (Stef Reid) Women’s T44 Long Jump (Field Athletics)
- 16:00 : SILVER (Ali Jawad) Men’s -59kg (Powerlifting)
- 17:35 : GOLD (Jody Cundy) Men’s C4-5 1000m Time Trial (Track Cycling)
- 17:37 : GOLD (Georgina Hermitage) Women’s T37 100m (Track Athletics)
- 17: 44 : GOLD (Sophie Hahn) Women’s T38 100m (Track Athletics)
- 17:42 : BRONZE (Kadeena Cox) Women’s T38 100m (Track Athletics)
- 18:05 : BRONZE (Susannah Rodgers) Women’s S7 50m Freestyle (Swimming)
- 18:08 : BRONZE (Louis Rolfe) Men’s C2 3000m Individual Pursuit (Track Cycling)
- 18:18 : GOLD (Ellie Robinson) Women’s S6 50m Butterfly (Swimming)
- 18:52 : GOLD (Libby Clegg) Women’s T11 100m (Track Athletics)
- 19:41 : BRONZE (Lewis White) Men’s S9 400m Freestyle (Swimming)
- 19:58 : GOLD (Jonnie Peacock) Men’s T44 100m (Track Athletics)
- 20:22 : SILVER (Stephanie Slater) Women’s S8 100m Butterfly (Swimming)
TOTAL MEDALS = 27 – (12) GOLD (6) SILVER (9) BRONZE
Favourite medal moment of the day = Ellie Robinson’s first ever Paralympic medal in the Women’s S6 50m Butterfly at just 15 years old. Jody Cundy’s redemption in the Men’s C4-5 1000m Time Trial is a very close second!
*All details are accurate according to the official Rio 2016 Paralympics app. The times posted signify the start of the final, therefore some times may not correctly indicate when the medal was achieved.
**header image by Peter Burgess at https://www.flickr.com/photos/burge5000