Paralympic Games: Seven medals in milestone day for Scotland’s braves

SCOTTISH Paralympians were saluted for their “outstanding” successes yesterday after they contributed seven medals, including two golds in rowing and cycling, to another impressive British tally.

Oarsman David Smith, from Aviemore, was part of the triumphant mixed coxed fours, while cyclist Craig MacLean, from Granton on Spey, piloted Anthony Kappes to victory in the individual sprint.

They were among six British golds yesterday, along with Aled Davies in the discus, Jessica-Jane Applegate in the 200 metres freestyle, Sophie Christiansen in the individual dressage and for the mixed dressage team.

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Britain’s strong showing for a second day, following five golds on Super Saturday, kept the team in second place in the medals table behind China.

Kappes and MacLean’s victory against team-mates Neil Fachie from Aberdeen and pilot Barney Storey prevented Fachie from a clinching second gold after he won the 1km time trial on Saturday.

The thrilling final saw the velodrome crowd on its feet, in a cauldron of noise on the final day of track cycling action.

Fachie, 28, who has a congenital eye condition, said after his team-mates suddenly found a gap and powered past them to win: “We knew it was going to be the toughest race we were ever going to have.”

However, the result saw MacLean and Kappes bounce back from their disappointment in the 1km time trial, when two mechanical mishaps saw them fail to finish.

MacLean, 41, who won Olympic team sprint silver in Sydney in 2000, said: “It would’ve been nice to be celebrating the double, but I suppose we’ve redeemed ourselves a little bit. It’s always nice to win.”

Fachie and MacLean may now team up for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Over on the water at Eton Dorney, Smith and his team-mates – James Roe, Naomi Riches, Pam Relph and cox Lily van den Broecke – were cheered on to victory against Germany by the Duchess of Cambridge, one of the royal ambassadors of the Paralympics.

Kate nervously held her hand to her mouth during the race before punching the air with her fist and clapping her hands above her head when the team won.

Smith, 34, said: “In 19 years of sport, this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I am so proud.”

Originally from Dunfermline but now based in Aviemore, Smith was born with both feet facing backwards.

After childhood surgery to correct the problem, he went on to compete for Great Britain at non-disabled karate and bobsleigh.

He underwent two neck operations in 2010 to remove a tennis ball-sized tumour from his spine and then a blood clot which had left him paralysed.

He said: “This has been the hardest two years of my life. Nothing could be as hard as learning to walk.

“That race hurt from the first stroke. When I heard the noise of the crowd I thought of all the things I had been through.

“I was in so much pain but I visualised that gold medal and thought ‘push, push, push’.”

In other Scottish successes, 22-year-old Libby Clegg took silver in the women’s 100m T12 final, running a lifetime best of 12.13 seconds.

Her medal came just hours after her brother James, 18, who trains in East Lothian, won bronze in the 100 metres butterfly.

Elsewhere, New Zealand-born Stefanie Reid, whose Scottish father enabled her to transfer from competing for Canada, where she was brought up, took silver in the long jump.

The 27-year-old, who lost her right leg below the leg in a boating accident aged 16, set a lifetime best, recording two new Paralympic records in the
process.

Aileen McGlynn, from Paisley, added a bronze in the individual sprint, with pilot Helen Scott, to their silver in the 1km time trial on Friday – Scotland’s first medal.

However, she said the bronze meant more than the earlier medal.

McGlynn, 39, won against team-mates Lora Turnham and pilot Fiona Duncan, also from Glasgow.

She said: “I knew they would give us a fight. We had not done any specific training for the event since May, so to pip them we are so chuffed.“It actually feels better than winning silver.”

Sports minister Shona Robison said “The Scottish athletes in ParalympicsGB have had an outstanding day today.”

On MacLean and Fachie’s medals, she added: “This shows that the success story of our cycling teams continues apace and is great news for Craig, Neil and the rest of the team.”

She also applauded McGlynn’s bronze, adding: “The success in recent years of Scottish cyclists shows we are continuing to punch above our weight in cycling on the international stage.”

There was controversy on the track last night after Oscar Pistorius complained vociferously about the length of his opponent’s blades after he

was beaten into second by Brazil’s Alan Oliveira in the men’s 200 metres final.