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Paralympic records tumble in London

Saturday marked the first weekend of competition at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. There was action in sixteen different sports with 49 medals to be won.

In the Olympic stadium on the athletics track, the most famous name in the games, South African Oscar Pistorius, began the defense of his three sprint titles. He broke the world record in his heat of the T44 200 meters, clocking a new best of 21.30 seconds.

Earlier this month Pistorius became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics. He is nicknamed the "Blade Runner" because of his carbon fibre prostheses.

Also on the track, Irish sprinter Jason Smyth became the fastest Paralympic runner of all-time when he won the T13 (visually impaired runners)100 meters, in 10.46 seconds. He broke his own, previous world best of 10.54 seconds which he had set on Friday.

Smyth trains with the US sprint star Tyson Gay in Florida. After the race, Smyth said: "This was far better than winning in Beijing. There were 80,000 people and it felt half of them were Irish!"

Fellow Irishman Michael McKillop retained his 800 meter track title from Beijing, also in a new world record time of 1 minute 57.22 seconds.

Medals table

China is leading the medals table with a total of 56 medals, ahead of Australia, Great Britain, Ukraine, Russia, the US and Nigeria. Germany is in 11th place with 16 medals.

Nigeria has dominated the paralifting event: Esther Oyema and Joy Onaolapo both broke world records in the 48kg and 52kg categories. Nigeria has won a medal in seven of the eight classes.

For the hosts, Great Britain's athletes enjoyed their most successful day so far, winning five gold medals. In the swimming pool, 17-year-old Ellie Simmonds defended her Paralympic title by smashing the world record in the S6 400 meter freestyle race.

jm/av (Reuters, AFP)