Today in a nutshell: some of the most experienced names at this Paralympics – Sarah Storey, Oksana Masters, Jessica Long, Sareh Javanmardi – powered on to more medals, there was a crushing defeat for Britain’s women basketball team, and the hosts set a new record for the oldest Japanese Paralympian to win gold.
Wednesday’s key moments: badminton makes its Paralympics debut, there are an incredible 20 table tennis semi-finals on offer, while the cycling road race takes place.
There was one of the most amazing scenes of the Paralympics so far as visually impaired athletes thundered down the Tokyo track in the pouring rain, relying on their guides, and registering 12 seconds for the women’s T11 100m. And it was full of drama too. Brazil’s Jerusa Geber Dos Santos’s tether anchoring her to her guide broke in the first few strides, leading to her being disqualified. Then Thalita da Silva Costa, Brazil’s other representative, finished third, but was also disqualified. With only four in the race, Venezuela’s Linda Perez Lopez with gold and Liu Cuiqing of China with silver were the only medallists.
ParalympicsGB’s Reece Dunn claimed his third gold of the Games with a world-record-breaking swim in the men’s SM14 200m individual medley in Tokyo. Elsewhere for Britain there were was a silver for Bethany Firth in the women’s SM14 200m individual medley, her third medal of the Games, while Louise Fiddes took bronze in the same event. Stephen Clegg and Hannah Russell also won bronzes in the men’s and women’s S12 100m freestyle and women’s respectively.
I promised you that the time trial cycling at the Fuji International Speedway would make for spectacular viewing – but I hadn’t realised just how chaotic it would be with delays, overlapping races, crashes and mechanicals galore. And golds galore too – there were 19 races in total. Lots of the big names delivered, with Britain’s Sarah Storey, Australia’s Darren Hicks, Jetze Plat of the Netherlands and Oksana Masters of the US all winning their races. Shawn Morelli of the US also won his race, and there were golds for Keiko Sugiura of Japan and Britian’s Ben Watson.
After her race Masters said: “All the stuff that was ingrained in my younger self, are also the reasons why I’ve been able to, with the support of so many people behind me, get to where I am today. I’m hoping that my journey is helping inspire that next young girl.” She’ll go for another medal in the road race on Wednesday.
Plat followed up his triathlon win with another gold here, and is aiming to win his road race as well for a unique treble: “It’s certainly not impossible. I feel I am ready and am in good shape. First now focus again on the recovery. Back to the hotel and lay down on the bed as soon as possible and tomorrow at 2.15 we start again. Luckily tomorrow everybody is almost dead, so that’s a bit better for me maybe.”
Storey eclipsed all competition to win her second gold medal of these Games. In doing so she also drew level with the swimmer Mike Kenny as the joint-most successful British Paralympian of all time. Tokyo is Storey’s eighth Paralympic Games and her fourth as a cyclist, after beginning her athletic career as a swimmer. “It’s the race of truth,” she said. “The chance to pitch yourself against yourself more than anything. See if you can pick off your competitors in the process. It has that little bit of everything. It has that race bit, that competitiveness, but also that single-mindedness that has carried me through my whole career.”
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The briefing’s picture of the day
China ended Japan’s interest in the men’s goalball with a 7-4 victory in their quarter-final. Champions Lithuania will now play Brazil in one semi-final on Thursday after they beat Belgium today. The other will be China v USA.
🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 ParalympicsGB update
Jordanne Whiley served up an epic three-set battle – see what I did there – with Dana Mathewson in the wheelchair tennis, eventually reaching the semi-final with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win. Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are guaranteed at least a silver medal after reaching the final in the men’s doubles.
“If you ever see me on the track again, shoot me” said David Weir after finishing last in an astonishing T53/54 men’s 1500m, while still recording a personal best, as did every other athlete in a final that was won in a new world record by Switzerland’s Marcel Hug. The top seven all went faster than the previous world record.
There were other British cycling medals at the Fuji International Speedway track today – Crystal Lane-Wright scored a second place finish behind Storey, and Lora Fachie added a silver to the impressive family collection of medals having been guided by pilot Corinne Hall. She finished second behind Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy, who dominated the women’s B time trial, winning with her pilot Eve McCrystal by a minute. George Peasgood won a bronze in the men’s C4 time trial.
There was bronze in the athletics for Columba Blango, and Olivia Breen won bronze in the T38 long jump. ParalympicsGB hit a milestone as a team today as well, clocking up their 1,000th medal since the National Lottery began funding them in 1997.
🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Team USA update
The US’s women’s wheelchair basketball team successfully negotiated their quarter-final 63-48 against Canada. They now face China in the semi-finals, after the Chinese defeated Great Britain. The other semi-final will be between Germany and the Netherlands.
The third time was one ask too many, as Tatyana McFadden couldn’t retain her Rio title in the women’s 1500m T54. The gold went to China’s Zhou Zhaoqian. Another US superstar Paralympian just keeps on keeping on, however: Jessica Long picked up her 26th Paralympic career medal behind teammate Morgan Stickney in the the women’s 400m freestyle S8. Long has a medal of every colour in Tokyo already, with two more events to come.
The silver and gold medals in the men’s T63 high jump from Rio got flipped around, as this time Sam Grewe got the better of India’s Mariyappan Thangavelu.
🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Australia update
Beyond the win for Darren Hicks, Australia had a good day’s cycling with silver for Emily Petricola and bronzes for Meg Lemon and Paige Greco. Afterwards Petricola said she was a little down about missing another gold. “Part of me is a little bit disappointed,” she said. “But I couldn’t have done more than I did today – I was a bit unlucky with some of the traffic out there but that’s part of racing on the road.”
James Turner won gold in Rio in the T36 800m – he’s repeated the feat, but this time in the 400m. Already the world record holder, the Canberra athlete set a Paralympics record en route to his gold medal. The Russian Paralympic Committee athlete Evgenil Shvetsov was second, with New Zealand’s William Stedman claiming bronze. Turner struggled in the humidity after the race, collapsing briefly after doing some media interviews but was back on his feet before long. “I’ve got a headache and it hurt but it’s all worth it”.
Australia’s women won their ninth/10th play-off against Algeria in the wheelchair basketball to avoid going through the Paralympics losing all of their five matches.
🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 The hosts and beyond
A 2-0 defeat by China saw the hosts Japan crash out of the football five-a-side at the group stage. The semi-finals on Thursday will now feature China v Argentina and Brazil v Morocco.
On her way to the gold medal, China’s Zhang Liangmin broke her own world record in the F11 women’s discus throw. The mark had stood since 2011.
Sareh Javanmardi of Iran won the 10m air pistol SH1 event with a score of 239.2 which set a new world record. She’d previously won a bronze at London 2012 and two golds at Rio in 2016. Yang Chao of China won the men’s equivalent.
The Afghan athlete Hossain Rasouli competed today in the T47 long jump, but it was 18-year-old Robiel Yankiel Sol Cervantes who starred as he won Cuba’s first gold of these Games with a world record leap of 7.46m in the men’s T47 long jump. There was then a second gold for the island nation as Omara Durand Elias won the T12 women’s 400m. It is the sixth Paralympic gold of her career.
Key events for Wednesday 1 September
All events are listed here in local Tokyo time. Add an hour for Sydney, subtract eight hours for Dundee, 13 hours for New York and 16 hours for San Francisco.
🌟If you only watch one thing: 6pm Badminton – incredibly there are still sports having their first day, and on Wednesday badminton takes a bow. Indeed it is a new sport making its Paralympics debut. There are 22 group stage matches, and overall there are 14 different competitions – including athletes in wheelchairs (WH1 & WH2), those of short stature (SS6), those with lower limb impairments (SL3-SL4) and those with upper limp impairments (SU5). The majority of the finals are on Saturday 4 September.
9am Wheelchair basketball – the men’s competition hits the quarter-final stage. The day starts with the ninth/10th ranking match between Colombia and Algeria, and then it is the quarter-finals: Turkey v USA, Spain v Germany, Great Britain v Canada at 6.15pm and Japan v Australia to finish the day.
9.30am and 3.05pm Boccia – there’s four bronze medal play-offs and then four finals, including one for Britain’s David Smith 🥇
9.30am Cycling Road – regular readers will know I’m a bit of a cycling fan. There’s essentially six races on Wednesday that go off in three slots. The men’s H5 and men’s H1-2 start at 9.30am and 9.35am. The women’s H5 and H1-4 start at 12.15pm and 12.20pm. The men’s H4 and men’s H3 start at 2.15pm and 2.20pm. All the road races take place on a 13.2 km circuit that starts and finishes at the Fuji International Speedway. It’s lumpy and there’s a 3.5 km climb up to the finish line. The number of laps will vary between the classes 🥇
9.30 Shooting – the main events are the final of the mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1 at 11.30am and the SH2 category at 1.45pm 🥇
10am Table tennis – Wednesday is semi-final day in the team table tennis – there are 20 (yes, 20) matches to enjoy. It means that 20 teams will be going forward to the finals – and that 20 teams today will be leaving Tokyo with a bronze medal – there are no third-place play-offs in the table tennis 🥉
11am Wheelchair tennis – it’s the men’s singles quarter-finals, the semi-finals in the women’s doubles, and the quads doubles has both the bronze medal play-off and the final 🥇
1.15pm Goalball – it is quarter-final day for the women: Turkey v Australia, Israel v Japan, China v Brazil and the US v Not Russia.
There are also two sessions as usual for swimming (9am and 5pm) with 15 medals and athletics (9.30am and 7pm) with 17 medals, and the weather looks to be cooling so that the wheelchair tennis might stick to its schedule. Play is due to start at 11am.
As it stands
Here’s how the emoji table stood at 10.40pm Tokyo time. Incidentally, hosts Japan are 15th in the table with five golds, six silvers and eleven bronze medals.
1 🇨🇳 China 🥇 62 🥈 38 🥉 32 total: 132
2 🇬🇧 Great Britain 🥇29 🥈 23 🥉 28 total: 80
3 ◻️ Not Russia 🥇25 🥈 16 🥉 33 total: 74
4 🇺🇸 USA 🥇 24 🥈 24 🥉 15 total: 63
5 🇺🇦 Ukraine 🥇 15 🥈 33 🥉 19 total: 67
6 🇧🇷 Brazil 🥇 14 🥈 11 🥉 17 total: 42
7 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🥇 14 🥈 9 🥉 9 total: 32
8 🇦🇺 Australia 🥇 13 🥈 21 🥉 20 total: 54
9 🇮🇹 Italy 🥇 11 🥈 18 🥉 14 total: 43
10 🇧🇷 Azerbaijan 🥇 10 🥈 1 🥉 4 total: 13
Get in touch
Madeleine Thompson first started representing Great Britain at wheelchair basketball when she was 13, so is an absolute veteran these days at 26. She summed up what had been a frustrating campaign for the team after their quarter-final defeat, with some emotional words saying: “I’ve had times when I’ve just dreamt of putting a medal around my son’s neck, and my mum just said to me before we left, the most important thing you are going to put around your neck is your son’s arms.”
It summed up how strong the family support is around these elite athletes who are competing in Tokyo without their friends and family there. It must be such an odd feeling, especially when they’ve always been there before. Thompson said “that nobody had wanted a Paralympics without crowds”, and it reminded me of something Kadeena Cox said to me when I spoke to her before the Games started. I asked her about whether performing in an empty stadium might affect athletes and she pointed out a sad but realistic truth: “In parasport a lot of the time we don’t have masses of crowds anyway. So you get quite used to you know competing in front of mainly just friends or family and coaches and other team members.”
Cox will find out how it feels to be in that stadium when she tries to add the 400m T38 to her cycling medals – she runs in the heats on Friday. You can get in touch with me at email@example.com, and let me know what you are looking forward to from the rest of the Paralympics.
The last word
Today I forgot about my age. I can’t set a record for being the youngest, but I can set a record for being the oldest again. Gold medal, thank goodness. – Keiko Sugiura, who at 50 set a record today as Japan’s oldest Paralympic gold medallist