Deaflympic Scots set new records in swimming

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Two Scottish athletes have broken national records at the Deaflympic Games in Sofia as part of a 49-strong British team.

Scots swimmers Lucy Walkup and Danielle Joyce set Scottish record times in the 50 metres breaststroke heats and 200m freestyle final respectively. Joyce, who posted 2:14.40 in finishing sixth in the final, also set the British record in the 100m backstroke as she swam the first leg in the 4x 100m medley final, in which Joyce, Walkup, Emily Noden and Annabell Towns finished sixth.

Jack McComish performed admirably, finishing fourth in the 400m freestyle final.

Having reached six finals in the 2009 Games in Taiwan, the GB swimming team had set a target of 14 finals and are sitting at 15 with two days remaining.

On the track, Lauren Peffers won silver in the 400m final but in the men’s 100m John Ruddy was unable to progress despite recording a faster time than the three qualifiers from the other heat.

Cyclist Tom Smith produced a heroic performance in the men’s road race to finish second. After falling behind the leading group with eight miles left on the final climb, with only one kilometre to go Smith clawed his way back to set up a sprint to the finish and claim silver.

In tennis, team GB are still in contention for medals in the mixed and women’s doubles. Catherine Fletcher – carrying a severe shoulder injury – and Lewis Fletcher defeated China 6-2, 6-0 in the mixed quarter-final. Unfortunately they lost out in yesterday’s semi-final and will face either France or the United States for bronze.

In the women’s doubles semi, Fletcher and Bethany Brookes lost 6-2, 6-1 to Thailand, and will face Germany for a place on the podium. Despite her injury, Fletcher will also compete for bronze in the women’s singles against either France or Germany on Saturday.

In badminton, outgoing manager Andrea Hardwick hailed “the end of an era” as team GB bowed out of the competition. Kirstie Allen and Lesley Holdsworth lost narrowly to Japan in the women’s doubles quarter- final and Alexander Hurley and Dominic Caswell bowed out at the same stage to Thailand.

A proud Hardwick was optimistic about the team’s future, saying: “It’s the end of an era, and there will be a fantastic opportunity for younger players to shine and to prepare for Turkey 2017.”

There was disappointment in the individual men’s karate as David Grant was disqualified for his “unsafe” fighting techniques.

With its inaugural event taking place in 1924, the IOC-sanctioned Deaflympics are second only to the Olympics in terms of longevity. The nine-day event sees deaf athletes from 60 countries compete at an elite level in 55 different categories.

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