Today in a nutshell: a day of heartbreakingly close finishes, British success in the wheelchair rugby, and an incredible fourth 100m title for Ireland’s Jason Smyth, plus more medals for Hannah Cockroft, Tatyana McFadden, Isis Holt and Ihar Boki.
Tomorrow’s key moments: it is the final day of the equestrian events, while the archery and shooting look worth keeping an eye on, and there are many more medals to be had in the athletics and swimming.
It was a heartbreaking finish to the women’s PTWC triathlon for Australia’s Lauren Parker. She had dominated the race the whole way, except for the last couple of metres after an astonishing chase down by the USA’s Kendall Gretsch. Parker had given it everything, and fell one second short. In the women’s PTS5 race, Britain’s Lauren Steadman finished 41 seconds clear of the American Grace Norman, with British teammate Claire Cashmore picking up bronze.
There was also an astonishingly close finish in the shot put as well. Iran’s Garrah Tnaiash thought he had won the F40 contest with his last throw and started celebrating, only to see Russian Paralympic Committee athlete Deni Gnezdilov better it by 1cm. The two hugged afterwards – but the look on Tnaiash’s face says it all …
Then the closest of photo-finishes took place as 34-year-old Jason Smyth incredibly retained the 100m T13 gold for visually impaired athletes for the fourth Paralympics in a row. He was judged to have beaten Algeria’s Skander Djamil Athmani by one hundredth of a second.
After securing Ireland’s second gold of these Games, Smyth said: “I’ve had trouble with injuries earlier in the year, and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I was going to be here. I wasn’t sure if it was the end of my career. But we got things right when they needed to be right.”
Tatyana McFadden won her 19th Paralympic medal for the US with a silver in the women’s 800m T54. Compatriot Susannah Scaroni was third, and the gold went to Switzerland’s Manuela Schaer.
Britain’s Hannah Cockroft once suggested that baking in front of celebrity chef Paul Hollywood was more daunting than competing at the Paralympics and she showed no nerves as she picked up the sixth gold of her Paralympic career by powering to T34 100m victory in a world-record time of 16.39sec. The 29-year-old beat her own global best by 0.18 seconds, with compatriot Kare Adenegan in second.
The briefing’s picture of the day
The team dressage gold went to ParalympicsGB, with Lee Pearson, Natasha Baker and Sophie Wells adding to their medals from the individual events. The Netherlands took silver and the USA bronze. The British team have won this event every single time it has been staged, going back to 1996.
You can find the best pictures from day five of the Paralympics in our gallery.
🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Team USA update
In the pool Mckenzie Coan won the women’s 400m freestyle S7, with Team USA compatriot Julia Gafney in third. Evan Austin and Jamal Hill also picked up swimming bronze.
Daniel Romanchuck led the US medal charge in the track and field events with gold in the men’s 400m T54, with Roderick Townsend winning gold in the T47 high jump. There were also silver medals for Noah Malone, Raymond Martin and Jaleen Roberts, plus a bronze for Dallas Wise.
In wheelchair basketball, both the US men’s and women’s teams won their matches today. The men play their final group game against Algeria tomorrow, and are already assured of a quarter-final berth. The US women will play their quarter-final against Canada on Tuesday. The other quarter-final match-ups were finalised today: the Netherlands will face the hosts, Germany play Spain, and China v Great Britain completes the set.
🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 ParalympicsGB update
The rowing comes and goes pretty quickly at the Paralympics. I’ve barely mentioned it and already day three is over, and all the medals have been won. Two of them went to ParalympicsGB. It is 11 years since Great Britain has been beaten in the PR3 mixed coxed four and Ellen Buttrick, Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox and Ollie Stanhope made sure that record continued. Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley then took the PR2 mixed double sculls for good measure. Fox won the same event in 2016, and said: “We’re incredibly tough on ourselves, we’re always pushing the standard. People often talk about complacency with us, it’s just not an option for us.”
Sometimes described as “chess with violence”, ParalympicsGB became the first European team to win the wheelchair rugby. It was Britain’s first medal in the sport, after previously losing three bronze medal play-offs. They reversed Friday’s result from the group stages and condemned Team USA to a second silver medal in a row with a thrilling 54-49 victory.
China continued their dominance in the wheelchair fencing, taking gold and leaving the British team with the silver medal in the men’s foil team final. The Chinese women also claimed gold with a victory over Italy. And there was to be no repeat of Will Bayley kicking the hoardings down in wild table tennis celebrations – he also ended up with silver after a defeat to China, this time in the shape of Yan Shuo.
Maria Lyle won bronze in the women’s T35 200m, adding to the one she picked up in the 100m event, but there was disappointment for Samantha Kinghorn, who finished fourth in the women’s T53 800m by just 0.04sec. Jonnie Peacock progressed to Monday’s T64 100m final, where he is aiming for a third gold in the event.
In the wheelchair tennis, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid eased into the men’s doubles second round with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of their Austrian opponents. Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley progressed to the semi-finals in the women’s doubles. Elsewhere, swimmers Ellie Challis and Louise Fiddes won silver medals, and Scott Quin got a bronze.
28-year-old Skelley came into the Games as the No 1 in the world. His eyesight began to deteriorate when he was 17, forcing him to stop playing rugby. “Eleven years ago, I was at the darkest part of my life because there was nothing left for me. The only thing that was left was my judo. I never expected to do this as a job. It’s my hobby. I love it because I love judo. And to stand here and talk to you now as a Paralympic champion … I’m lost for words. I just want a pork pie.”
🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Australia update
There were two more Australian medals in the pool today – Jake Michel finished second in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB14 final behind Japan’s Naohide Yamaguchi, and the women’s 4x100m 34 points freestyle relay team picked up silver after finishing nearly two seconds behind winners Italy. There was also another silver for Australia from Isis Holt on the track – she came second in the women’s 200m T35 final.
Having been defeated by hosts Japan in the bronze medal match, wheelchair rugby’s Ryley Batt was in the mood to get back to winning ways, saying: “I’ve definitely got gas left in the tank, I just want to take a few months out and get back to a life with my family and friends and enjoy it. I’ll be back and who knows, we might try to get that gold back in Paris in 2024.”
🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 The hosts and beyond
Japan got off to a winning start in the five-a-side football, beating France 4-0. In the opening round of group games there were also wins for Brazil, Argentina and Spain.
Roman Polianskyi secured another gold for Ukraine – who are having a fantastically successful Games – in the PR1 men’s single sculls. Erik Horrie took silver in that for Australia. There was also a rowing gold for Birgit Skarstein in the women’s equivalent, with Israel’s Moran Samuel in silver. It was Norway’s first gold of the Games. World record holder Salum Ageze Kashafali added a second in the men’s T12 100m.
Ihar Boki won a fourth Tokyo gold in the S13 50m freestyle – he’s still got two events left to better his five gold haul at London 2012. He will be in the men’s 200m individual medley SM13 final on Monday and then the 100m Breaststroke SB13 on Wednesday.
In the men’s triathlons early this morning, Jetze Plat destroyed the field in the PTWC race, winning gold from Austria’s Florian Brungraber by over two minutes. Germany’s Martin Schulz won the PST5 event, with silver going to GB’s George Peasgood.
Bhavinaben Hasmukhbhai Patel won India’s first ever table tennis medal at a Paralympics, but was disappointed it was only silver: “I’m very happy but I feel bad also because I was little nervous and that prevented me from being 100%. Because of that I’m not entirely satisfied, but I tried my best. I created history.”
Key events for Monday 30 August
All events are listed here in local Tokyo time. Add an hour for Sydney, subtract eight hours for Bangor, 13 hours for New York and 16 hours for San Francisco.
🌟If you only watch one thing: 9am and 5.30pm Archery – quite early on there is a clash of the Britons, as Jessica Stretton and Phoebe Patterson Pine have been drawn against each other in the quarter-finals in the women’s individual compound contest. They’ll be on at 9.51am. The final is at 1.36pm. The evening session is the men’s individual compound, and that climaxes with the gold medal shootout at 8.42pm 🥇
8.30am Shooting – It is the first day of shooting, which starts with qualifications for the men’s and women’s 10m air rifle SH1 class. By 11am the women’s contest reaches the final stage, with the men shooting for their gold medal at 1.15pm. The session is completed with a third gold medal on offer in the mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2 contest. In the SH2 class athletes have impairments that mean they can’t support the weight of the rifle, so use a shooting stand. China dominated the shooting overall in Rio in 2016, but the Slovakian pair of Radoslav Malenovsky and Veronika Vadovicova come into Monday’s SH1 events in a strong position. He won the 2018 world championship and she is defending her title in an event she also won in Beijing in 2008 🥇
9.30am and 7pm Athletics – another two sessions and fifteen gold medals on offer in all. The pick of the bunch is the men’s 100m finals in the T63 and T64 classes from 8.33pm, and that’s mirrored earlier with the men’s 100m finals in the T33 and T34 classes at 10.33am 🥇
9am and 4pm Equestrian – it is the final day in the Equestrian Park for these Paralympic Games. The medals have been widely spread among the nations taking so part so far. The final session runs for over five hours and sees every grade from one to five do their individual freestyle test, so there’s plenty of chance to enjoy one last day of equestrian action in Tokyo 🐴🥇
9am Football 5-a-side – there’s another four group games today, with one of Brazil or Japan guaranteeing themselves a semi-final spot if they can beat the other when they meet at 11.30am.
11am and 5pm Wheelchair tennis – there’s quite a mixed order of play for Monday, with some second round matches in the women’s singles, the men’s singles has third round matches, and the quad singles and men’s doubles are at the quarter-final stages. Britain’s Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett have a tiring day ahead of them as they are involved in both the singles and doubles.
5pm Swimming – the evening swimming session features fifteen gold medal races, including the 200m individual medley races for both genders in the SM11 and SM13 classes, and finishing with the men’s 4x100m freestyle 34 points relay 🥇
As it stands
Here’s how the emoji table stood at 11.30pm Tokyo time:
1 🇨🇳 China 🥇 44 🥈 29 🥉 27 total: 100
2 🇬🇧 Great Britain 🥇22 🥈 18 🥉 17 total: 57
3 ◻️ Not Russia 🥇15 🥈 9 🥉 26 total: 50
4 🇺🇸 USA 🥇 14 🥈 14 🥉 8 total: 36
5 🇺🇦 Ukraine 🥇 10 🥈 22 🥉 10 total: 42
6 🇧🇷 Brazil 🥇 10 🥈 5 🥉 15 total: 30
7 🇧🇷 Azerbaijan 🥇 9 🥈 0 🥉 3 total: 12
8 🇦🇺 Australia 🥇 8 🥈 14 🥉 13 total: 35
9 🇮🇹 Italy 🥇 7 🥈 9 🥉 9 total: 25
10 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🥇 7 🥈 6 🥉 5 total: 18
Get in touch
The news arrived too late in the UK for me to write about it in yesterday’s newsletter, but I found myself genuinely feeling quite emotional when it was announced that Afghanistan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli will take part in the Tokyo Paralympics after being safely evacuated from Kabul. You’ll recall the Afghanistan flag was part of the opening ceremony even though at the time it was thought that the chaos at home would prevent the pair travelling.
They’ve now arrived in Japan via Paris, and the International Paralympic Committee said “Over the last 12 days, Zakia and Hossain have continued to express their absolute desire to come and compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Rasouli was originally due to participate in the men’s 100m T47 on Saturday but will now switch to the 400m heats. Khudadadi will be the first female Afghan to compete at the Games since Athens 2004 when she takes part in the women’s K44 -49kg taekwondo on Thursday. They are sure to be emotional occasions.
And I also got a bit emotional watching the triathlon last night – I just felt so much for Lauren Parker. You could see how devastated she was, and so exhausted that she couldn’t even move herself away from the cameras to be distraught in private. I’m sure in time she’ll feel proud of what she achieved, but that was one of the most raw ways possible to lose a gold medal.
If you’ve got thoughts about today’s close finishes, or anything else to do with the Games, don’t forget you can get in touch with me at email@example.com, I love getting your emails, and it is always useful to know what you are enjoying. There were 62 gold medal events today – what a day. I’ll be back tomorrow – take care and stay safe.
The last word
I just want to show all the kids out there – with disabilities or not – if you have a dream, chase it. There’s always a way, and you can find that way – Robyn Lambird, bronze medal winner for Australia in the 100m T34.
This article was amended on 30 August 2021. An earlier version erroneously stated that Jason Smyth had won Ireland’s first gold medal of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Ellen Keane had that honour when she won the SB8 100m breaststroke on Thursday 26 August.