Paul Blake completes set as GB break 50 medal mark in Rio

Great Britain's Paul Blake celebrates winning the men's 400m T36 final during the ninth day of the Rio Paralympics. Picture: PA
Great Britain's Paul Blake celebrates winning the men's 400m T36 final during the ninth day of the Rio Paralympics. Picture: PA
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Paul Blake took the British team past the half-century mark in the gold medal tally at the Paralympics – and on course for a record haul before the Games close tomorrow in Rio – with victory in the men’s 400m T36 final.

The 26-year-old crossed the line first in a season’s best time of 54.49 seconds to complete a full set of medals following his silver and bronze from London 2012.

“It’s not the ideal lane running from lane eight but I just got on with it,” said Blake who will now bid for more in today’s 800m.

“I was aware we were on 49 gold medals, it’s incredible for us to get so many gold medals and for me to help out with that tally is great.”

David Weir’s last outing on the track saw him sink without a trace as the GB quartet failed to reach the final of the T53-54 4x400 relay to continue a 
miserable Games for the wheelchair racer who will finish off in tomorrow’s marathon, alongside Fifer Derek Rae.

Maria Lyle believes losing out to China in the 4x100 metres relay will fire the British women up to regain their top spot in the pecking order when the world championships come to London next summer.

Lyle will go for a medal hat-trick in today’s T35 200m final after she was given a direct pass through following the cancellation of last night’s semis, 24 hours after she was part of the British quartet that picked up a silver behind China.

“We couldn’t have done any more,” she said. “But we’ll certainly be going for that gold in London next year.”

Opening ceremony flagbearer Lee Pearson clinched the 11th Paralympic gold of his career, and his first of 2016, in equestrian’s individual freestyle with fellow rider Sophie Wells landing silver in the grade IV.

Pearson was overlooked for the team event, which Britain won to extend a world, European and Paralympic unbeaten streak dating from 1996, but he responded with a gold medal in a fifth successive Games.

The tally of 11 golds saw Pearson draw level with wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and swimmer David Roberts.

David Smith swept to gold in the BC1 individual boccia with a 5-0 win in the final over Dutch rival Daniel Perez. But GB just missed a medal in the women’s wheelchair basketball with Scottish hope Robyn Love held to just two points in a 76-34 rout by the Netherlands in the bronze medal play-off.

Meanwhile, Neil Fachie’s thoughts will turn to speeches and vows after he completes his tour of duty in Rio today with the Aberdonian and bride-to-be Lora Turnham – who he will marry on 29 October – sharing a sign-off from these 
Paralympics with both visually-impaired cyclists going in the tandem road races in Pontal.

Yet four years on from his double gold at London 2012, the 32-year-old has yet to get used to his status as a marked man in the Paralympic fray. “The time when I felt most pressure was the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow,” said Fachie, pictured. “But the most pressure we feel is the one we put on ourselves.”

Last night, fellow Scot Hannah Dines came fifth in the trike racing time trial in 1:09:03, just over a minute behind Australian winner 
Carol Cooke.