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Sri Lanka wins first-ever gold medal

Chuck Penfold
August 30, 2021

A Sri Lankan war veteran has made history, setting a world record as he secured his country's first gold medal at the Paralympics. Meanwhile, Avani Lekhara became the first Indian woman to win Paralympic gold.

Dinesh Priyantha Herath Mudiyanselage
Former wounded soldier Dinesh Priyantha Herath Mudiyanselage made history for Sri LankaImage: /AP Photo/picture alliance

Dinesh Priyantha Herath Mudiyanselage set a new world record in the men's javelin F46 on Monday, giving Sri Lanka its first-ever Paralympic gold medal. 

The favorite, Devendra Jhajharia of India, had to settle for silver with his best throw of 64.35. Fellow Indian Sundar Singh Gurjar took bronze with a best throw of 64.01.

The 35-year-old Sri Lankan's third throw of 67.79m broke the world record that had previously been held by Devendra, the 2016 Paralympic champion. 

"I am very happy because my main dream came true. I have no words to describe," Priyantha was quoted by olympics.com.  The former soldier's disability came as the result of a gunshot wound in 2008 that ended his career in the Sri Lankan army. Priyantha, who said he first picked up a javelin as a form of recreation after having spent more than four years recovering in hospital, dedicated his gold medal to his wife. 

"I have three children and my wife looks after them very well. She motivates me. Our youngest child is only eight months old... She has given me freedom to do sport. I thank my wife for this gold."

Germany news

German sprinter Felix Streng stormed his way to Paralympic gold in the T64 100m, dethroning British rival Jonnie Peacock who ended up sharing the bronze with Germany's Johannes Floors on identical times of 10.79 seconds after a photo finish.

The track thriller saw Streng finish in 10.76 seconds, short of the Paralympic record he set just a day earlier in heats, but ahead of Costa Rica's Sherman Isidro Guity Guity, who took silver.

With a best toss of 13.30m, the defending champion from Rio five years ago in the F41 shot put, Niko Kappel, had to settle for a bronze medal in Tokyo. 

"I'm not completely happy with my performance, but I'm happy to have won a medal," said the 26-year-old Kappel, who has been hampered by injuries and never hit his best form over the past season.

Regine Mispelkamp took bronze in the Grade V dressage individual freestyle test. Michele George of Belgium claimed gold, ahead of Frank Hosmar of the Netherlands. 

Gold medals

Avani Lekhara produced a score of 149.6 in the final event of women's 10m air rifle standing to become the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold medal. The performance set a new Paralympic record and equalled the world record.

Jiang Yuyan became China's youngest Paralympic gold medallist, winning the women's 50m butterfly S6. The 16-year old clocked a time of 34.69, ahead of Ireland's Nicole Turner Elizabeth Marks of the United States.

More news

Former IOC President Jacques Rogge has died at the age of 79, the organization announced on Sunday. 

"It is with great sadness that the International Olympic Committee announces the passing of former IOC President Count Jacques Rogge," read an IOC statement. 

Rogge was the eighth president of the IOC, from 2001 to 2013, after which he was succeeded by Germany's Thomas Bach. 

"He was an accomplished President, helping to modernize and transform the IOC. He was also a fierce proponent of clean sport, and fought tirelessly against the evils of doping," Bach said.