SCOTLAND’S Maggie McEleny got in on the act in Athens yesterday as Great Britain’s Paralympics squad continued their impressive form in Greece. She grabbed a silver at the Aquatics Centre as the swimmers added to their haul of medals on a day when Team GB also claimed their first track gold of the Games courtesy of Tanni Grey-Thompson.
McEleny, an MBE from Greenock, finished second in the women’s 50m breaststroke SB3 final in just over a minute. Japan’s Mayumi Narita claimed the gold with a world-record time of 56.20, while the bronze went to Marayke Jonkers of Australia, who was a second slower than McEleny in 1:02.63.
It was David Roberts who stole the show in the pool, however, as the Welshman become an Athens triple gold medallist. Roberts put in a fine display of speed and stamina to win the S7 400m freestyle final. The 24-year-old, already a gold medallist in the S7 100m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay, left the rest of the field trailing in his wake, finishing in a time of four minutes and 56.11 seconds.
"I felt really nervous before the race, I had pins and needles in my stomach and hands and I felt sick on the block," said Roberts, who was five seconds clear of silver medallist Rong Tian of China. "This is my favourite event, the longer the distance the better. I was born to race; I don’t care who my competitors are or where they are from, I just want to race."
Roberts’ third gold triumph marks a stunning comeback from life-threatening surgery. And the cerebral palsy sufferer could claim yet another medal on Sunday in the 50m freestyle.
Sarah Bailey enjoyed her third medal of the Games and 16th Paralympic career medal after claiming silver behind American Mikhalia Rutherford in the SM10 200m individual medley final. James Crisp had a bronzewinning swim in the SM9 200m individual medley, while Claire Cashmore also made the podium after finishing third in the SM9 200m individual medley.
Grey-Thompson, who was so disappointed after finishing seventh in the T53 800m event last Sunday, made amends last night with a blistering 100m race to clinch the team’s first track gold medal. The Welsh wheelchair racer has medalled in every Games since 1988 and this was the tenth gold of her career.
She made a slow start but powered across the line well clear of Francesca Porcellato of Italy in a personal best of 17.24 seconds. "After the 800m I thought these Games were going to be a nightmare, so relief is the strongest emotion I’m feeling. One gold’s nice, two would be nicer," said the 35-year-old who is also entered in the open category 200m.