London 2012 Paralympics: Simmonds cruises to second gold
TEENAGE sensation Ellie Simmonds secured her second gold of the Paralympics last night and broke another world record in the process as British officials hailed the “superb” start made by ParalympicsGB to the Games.
An evening of success in the Aquatics Centre saw Britons claim four medals in the pool, and seven overall during the fifth day of competition, but the spotlight belonged to Simmonds.
The 17-year-old Swansea-based swimmer broke the world records for the SM6 200 metres individual medley during her morning heat, only to smash it again later in the evening with a time of 3.05.39.
A delighted Simmonds, who was presented with her gold by Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “I’m so pleased that I won - a world record again, another PB and to go on the podium again. I’m just so chuffed. Two golds now and I’m going to enjoy it.”
She was joined on the podium by Colchester-born Natalie Jones, 27, who took bronze in the same event. She said: “I’ve worked so hard for this over the last three months. I’m just so delighted that I’ve got a medal.”
Moments earlier, Sascha Kindred, 34, missed out on his fourth straight gold in the men’s individual medley 200 metres SM6, but claimed silver, describing it as “not the colour I wanted”.
Susie Rodgers claimed Britain’s fourth medal of the night’s swimming action when she dug in for bronze in the S7 100m freestyle, the 29-year-old holding off the challenge from Ukrainian Ani Palian to win bronze on her Paralympic debut.
There was, however, disappointment for Scot Jim Anderson, one of the most experienced members of the British team. The 49-year-old from Broxburn finished outside the medals in the final of the S2 100 metres freestyle in his sixth Paralympics.
Earlier in the day, Natasha Baker won her second gold of the Games after triumphing in the grade II freestyle equestrian contest, despite falling behind the music in her routine, forcing her to improvise on her horse, Cabral.
The 22-year-old, from Uxbridge in Middlesex, posted a Paralympic record score of 82.800 per cent, just 48 hours after she was crowned grade II individual champion following another record score. Speaking after her dressage performance at Greenwich park, Baker, who suffers from an inflammation of the spine, said: “I am completely over the moon.
“To do two personal bests at a Paralympics – that’s pretty special isn’t it. I just wanted to do my best – I did and thank God that best was 82 per cent.”
However, Lee Pearson, one of Britain’s brightest hopes for a dressage gold, had to settle for a bronze medal yesterday evening.
The 38-year-old from Staffordshire went into the grade 1b freestyle competition knowing that victory would put him alongside Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and swimmer David Roberts with a British record of 11 Paralympic golds, but there was disappointment as he finished behind Austria’s Pepo Puch and Katja Karalainen of Finland.
Britain’s other medal came from Paralympic debutant Paul Davies, who claimed a bronze when he beat Lee Chang-ho in the C1 third-place table tennis match.
After Will Bayley took silver in Sunday’s C7 final, Davies came out on top in his clash with Lee Chang-ho. The 45-year-old, who was paralysed in a motorbike accident in 1986, won 3-2 against the South Korean to ensure a podium spot in front of a raucous home crowd at the ExCel.
The Welshman said: “I’ve been playing for 21 years, since the day my son was born until today, so it is a happy day.”
ParalympicsGB chef de mission Craig Hunter hailed the British performances to date, adding that his athletes are “slightly ahead of our Beijing total” at the same point in the prestigious event.
He said: “It has been a very exciting first four days of competition, obviously the mood in the camp is very positive because we’ve got off to a superb start.”
The official broadcaster of the Games yesterday announced the highest ever TV Paralympics audience for Oscar Pistorius’s controversial defeat in Sunday night’s T44 200m final. A peak of 4.4 million viewers tuned in to Channel 4 to watch the 25-year-old South African’s race.
Scots Stephen and Peter McGuire, competing in the Boccia event, came tantalisingly close to winning at least a silver medal by reaching the semi-finals of the BC4 event only to lose narrowly 3-2 to Brazil.
The brothers from Hamilton, aged 28 and 29, had earlier defeated Thailand 8-0 in their preliminary match, and despite the encouragement of a home crowd at the ExCel arena, could not overcome the Brazilians.
The McGuires, who have muscular dystrophy, still have a chance to win bronze in London when they play Canada this morning.
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