Team GB started their 2016 Paralympic campaign in the most incredible way, and with the Games now reaching their midpoint, there was no stopping the 2012 hosts from continuing in truly Golden fashion.
Here’s my two day summary of GB at the halfway stage of the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Monday 12th September
I was ready to write off Monday before the evening events had even begun over in Rio, but I was ultimately proved wrong after an impressive Gold rush from the Great British team.
After failing to qualify in a fair number of the swimming heats during the morning, it seemed that Monday would not live up to the unbelievably high standards set the day before when GB finished with 21 medals in just 12 hours.
I still had little confidence that it would be a great day for the team when David Weir failed to place on the podium in his first final of Rio 2016, coming just 5th after a strong performance the previous day. Fellow athlete Richard Chiassaro also failed to reach the podium after placing in fourth, putting medal success in the track athletics on Monday completely out of the question.
Thankfully there was better performances in some of the heats over in the Olympic stadium as Gold medallists Libby Clegg and Georgina Hermitage both competed in their second event of the Games. They ran superb races and both finished first in their respective heats, earning themselves a place in the finals the following day.
The first Gold for GB on Monday came in the Men’s Class 7 Table Tennis when William John Bayley did one better than his Silver at London 2012 to take the Paralympic title. His success ran alongside that of Aled Davies over in the Olympic Stadium as he bested his competitors in the Men’s F42 Shot Put to claim another Gold for the team.
Davies’ win wasn’t the only medal won by GB in the Field Athletics on Monday as later on in the evening Jonathan Broom Edwards took on the Men’s T44 High Jump. After passing on the first few heights, Edwards cleared his first jump at 1.90m without trouble. The case was the same at 1.98m and 2.04m, but he missed his first attempt at 2.07m and knocked off the bar. By this point Edwards had already secured the Silver medal, but he didn’t want to go down against Poland’s Maciej Lepiato without a fight.
2.13m proved to be a jump too far for Edwards when he failed to clear the bar on all 3 attempts, leaving him with a height of 2.10m to earn him the Silver. This was a series best for the GB competitor, and Lepiato proved to be in a league of his own when he cleared 2.19m and set a new World Record.
This was GB’s second Silver medal of the day after some success in the archery earlier on. John Stubbs and Jodie Grinham unfortunately fell short in their Gold medal match against China in the Mixed Team Compound Open and took second place, but reaching the final was an achievement they could be more than proud of.
Then it was time to go to the pool.
All day the various C4 television presenters had been talking about Eleanor Simmonds in anticipation of her 200m Individual Medley that night, to the point where it felt like they were setting her up for defeat.
Simmonds’ race seemed to be GB’s greatest (and possibly only) chance of winning Gold in the pool on Monday, though there were other capable competitors swimming in other events that night.
After spending most of the day worrying that GB were falling short in a lot of their events, what happened in the pool gave me one of the best Paralympic moments so far.
They only went and won 3 consecutive Gold medals!
It started off with Sascha Kindred in the Men’s SM6 200m Individual Medley who had earlier on been disqualified after winning his heat. After an appeal had been put in that Kindred won, he was later reinstated and went on to claim Gold in a sensational race that saw him beat the World Record. It was an incredible performance and a fitting end for Kindred’s final Paralympic games after 20 years of competition.
Then it was time for the big race, the one everyone had been excited about all day.
It was too tense to watch at one point, when Simmonds was sitting back in 5th position as she completed her first 100m. My concern was unnecessary, though, because by the time she’d completed her next length of the pool, Simmonds was into first position with a good lead going into her strongest discipline – the freestyle.
Simmonds did what no other female SM6 200m Individual Medley swimmer had done before when she finished the race sub 3 minutes, setting a new World Record of 2:59.81.
Two races. Two Golds. Two World Records.
That was enough for me. The same could not be said for Team GB though. They wanted one more.
Susannah Rodgers was the woman to give them just that.
Having qualified with a strong time in the Women’s 50m Butterfly heats, Rodgers was a definite medal hope for GB, although no-one would have dared to believe that medal could be Gold though. Not even Rodgers herself who upon finishing looked up at the scoreboard in complete shock when she saw her name sat there right at the top.
That shock never left her face for the rest of the night and it’s that sense of delight mixed with disbelief that I love about the GB athletes. To win a medal is an incredible achievement for so many of them, and when it’s Gold words cannot sum up there gratitude. There’s no sense of complacency in this team.
Favourite medal moment of the day = The Golden Trio of Sascha Kindred, Eleanor Simmonds and Susannah Rodgers in the pool. Each win was absolutely sensational in different ways, I can’t separate them.
As it happened…
- 10:45 : GOLD (William John Bayley) Men’s Class 7 Singles (Table Tennis)
- 10:49 : GOLD (Aled Davies) Men’s F42 Shot Put (Field Athletics)
- 16:20 : SILVER (Johns Stubbs, Jodie Grinham) Mixed Team Compound Open (Archery)
- 18:36 : SILVER (Jonathan Broom-Edwards) Men’s T44 High Jump (Field Athletics)
- 19:31 : GOLD (Sascha Kindred) Men’s SM6 200m Individual Medley (Swimming)
- 19:39 : GOLD (Eleanor Simmonds) Women’s SM6 200m Individual Medley (Swimming)
- 20:08 : GOLD (Susannah Rodgers) Women’s S7 50m Butterfly (Swimming)
TOTAL MEDALS = 63 – (28) GOLD (16) SILVER (19) BRONZE
Tuesday September 13th
As GB’s rollercoaster ride of medals continued over in Rio, Tuesday proved to be another great day for the team as another 12 medals were added to their already incredible haul.
It was a great start to the day over in the athletics as Georgina Hermitage claimed her second Gold of these Paralympic Games. It was her race to lose as she dominated the track in the Women’s T37 400m, and her time of 1:00.53 ended up setting a new World Record.
Hermitage’s Gold was joined by another in the stadium not long after when Hollie Arnold reigned victorious in the Women’s F46 Javelin Throw. The medal was already around Arnold’s neck after the first throw as she remained the woman to beat throughout the competition. Her second throw of 41.68 set a new World Record, but this was then bested by her final throw of 43.01 to finish a great distance ahead of the rest of the field.
This was not the only medal to come from the field on Tuesday morning as Stephen Miller also claimed the Bronze in the Men’s F32 Club Throw.
Over in the Table Tennis, Rob Davies was hoping to emulate his teammate William John Bayley’s success in the Class 7 Singles on Monday when he bested his 2012 performance to win the Gold. His match against Korea’s Young Dae Joo was a little up-and-down with both men at 1 set apiece after 2 sets. However, Davies was able to get an advantage over his competitor when he won a close third set, and after some confident play in the fourth set he officially became the Olympic champion by taking it 11 points to 5.
With 3 Golds added to GB’s tally, alongside Miller’s Bronze, it was already looking to be a good day. Piers Gilliver proceeded to add a Silver to that total later on in the day, when he lost a closely fought match against China in the Men’s Category A Individual Épée. This was then followed by another Silver when Ollie Hynd swam a great race in the Men’s S8 100m Backstroke to add to the Gold he won just a few days earlier.
Little did anyone know, though, that Ollie Hynd’s medal was the calm before the Golden Storm as another spectacular moment for GB at these Paralympics was about to occur.
It started off with Stephanie Millward in the pool. She fought off tough competition in the Women’s S8 100m Backstroke to claim her first Gold of these Games, having already won two Bronze medals in the 100m and 400m Freestyle. Her Gold was then followed by Libby Clegg who was looking to top the podium for the second time in Rio. A medal was essentially assured for Clegg before she ran the Women’s T11 200m after Brazilian favourite Terezinha Guilhermina was disqualified for a false start. This was Guilhermina’s second disqualification, the first being in her previous race against Clegg when her guide outpaced her and ran out in front.
There wasn’t much that could better this sudden Gold rush for GB but Matthew Wylie proved that wasn’t the case when he made it a third win for GB in the space of 20 minutes. He proved to be the strongest competitor in the Men’s S9 50m Freestyle, although only just, as he beat Silver medallist Timothy Disken by 0.04 seconds to claim the Gold, their 34th of these Games.
Another Golden trio for GB.
This was followed by the team’s final medal of the night as Lucy Shulker and Jordanne Whiley competed for the Bronze in the Women’s Wheelchair Tennis Doubles. After a strong first set and a weak second set, Shulker and Whiley proved to be the fiercer team as they won 6-1 in the final match to claim the medal.
Earlier on in the day Jamie Burdekin and Andy Lapthorne had similar success in their Bronze medal match for the Men’s Quad Doubles. After losing the first set, Burdekin and Lapthorne claimed victory in the next two to take third place on the podium. Their match lasted almost 4 and a half hours, the longest a game of Wheelchair Tennis has ever taken before.
Eleanor Simmonds completed the Bronze medal haul when she placed third in the Women’s S6 400m Freestyle.
Favourite medal moment of the day = Stephanie Millward claiming her first Paralympic Gold after winning the Women’s S8 100m Backstroke, having previously only managed Silver and Bronze when she competed in Beijing and London.
As it happened…
- 10:03 : BRONZE (Stephen Miller) Men’s F32 Club Throw (Field Athletics)
- 10:14 : GOLD (Georgina Hermitage) Women’s T37 400m (Track Athletics)
- 11:25 : GOLD (Hollie Arnold) Women’s F46 Javelin Throw (Field Athletics)
- 11:45 : GOLD (Rob Davies) Men’s Class 1 Singles (Table Tennis)
- 12:00 : BRONZE (Jamie Burdekin, Andy Lapthorne) Men’s Quad Doubles (Wheelchair Tennis)
- 17:30 : BRONZE (Lucy Shulker, Jordanne Whiley) Women’s Doubles (Wheelchair Tennis)
- 17:41 : BRONZE (Eleanor Simmonds) Women’s S6 400m Freestyle (Swimming)
- 17:47 : SILVER (Piers Gilliver) Men’s Category A Individual Épée (Wheelchair Fencing)
- 19:21 : SILVER (Oliver Hynd) Men’s S8 100m Backstroke (Swimming)
- 19:28 : GOLD (Stephanie Millward) Women’s S8 100m Backstroke (Swimming)
- 19:42 : GOLD (Libby Clegg) Women’s T11 200m (Track Athletics)
- 19:49 : GOLD (Matthew Wylie) Men’s S9 50m Freestyle (Swimming)
TOTAL MEDALS = 75 – (34) GOLD (18) SILVER (23) BRONZE
*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 cdephotos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/86396370@N02/