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Paralympics: Australia off to golden start

August 25, 2021

Australian cyclist Paige Greco got the Tokyo Paralympics off to a flying start with a gold medal and world record. After a year's postponement and Tuesday's opening ceremony, Wednesday sees the real action start.

Paige Greco
The first gold of Paralympics Tokyo 2020 went to AustraliaImage: Thomas Lovelock for OIS/AP Photo/picture alliance

Paige Greco shaved eight seconds off a world record she had set just hours earlier to win the first gold medal of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics for Australia.

Her victory in the C1-C3 class 3,000 meter individual pursuit, came at the expense of China's Wang Xiaomei, who had to settle for silver despite breaking the world record herself in qualifying.

"It feels amazing," Greco said. "I still can't believe it. I keep looking down and seeing (the gold medal). It's not really sunk in yet.''

Greco was born with cerebral palsy, which mostly affects the right side of her body. It was her first Paralympic Games medal.

Like all the athletes at this Games, Greco has had to wait another year to compete for her medal after the Paralympics were postponed for 12 months as a result of the coronavirus, with cases now surging once again in the Japanese capital.

Paralympic Athlete Alhassane Baldé

Germany update

The first German medal of these Games also came in the C1-C3 class 3,000 meter individual pursuit, as Denise Schindler claimed bronze.

The 35-year-old, nicknamed the Killerbiene (Killer Bee), breezed past Clara Brown, of the USA, to win the bronze medal race to add a first track medal to road race silvers in Rio and London. After losing her lower leg as a child, Schindler races using a prosthesis made on a 3D printer.

Denise Schindler
Denise Schindler celebrates another Paralympic medalImage: Thomas Lovelock/OIS/AP/picture alliance

Gold medals 

There was more gold for Australia in the velodrome as Emily Petricola claimed the women's C4 3,000m individual pursuit while Great British athlete Sarah Storey rode to victory in the women's C5 3,000m individual pursuit and Dutchman Tristan Bangma secured his country a first gold in the men's B 4,000m individual pursuit.

Australia's sensational start continued in the pool, where Will Martin won the men’s 400m S9, while his compatriot Lakeisha Patterson won the women’s race. Later Ben Popham continued the Aussie success story, winning the men’s 100m freestyle S8 category, a sixth gold for the country overall.

China also enjoyed a strong start, taking a clean sweep in the wheelchair fencing. Tan Shumei won women’s Category B, while Bian Jing took gold in Category A. In men’s sabre Category B, Feng Yanke was victorious while in Category A, Li Hao took gold. 

News from Tokyo

Thomas Bach congratulates an athlete during the Olympics closing ceremony
Thomas Bach has been criticized for his presence in TokyoImage: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Japan's top medical adviser criticized International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Wednesday for visiting Tokyo again when the country is expanding emergency curbs to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We had said over and over 'What kind of message will the Olympics send to the public?'" Dr Shigeru Omi, the immunologist who chairs the government's coronavirus advisory panel that approved the emergency plan, said in a parliamentary session.

"We're asking people to work from home more. If (IOC) President Bach needs to give a speech (for the Paralympics), why couldn't he do it remotely? Why does he have to bother coming all the way here?" Omi said in an unusual outburst for an authority figure in Japan.

Refugee Para kayaker Anas Al Khalifa goes to Tokyo