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Mighty Paralympics, Paralympians …

  • September 9th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

freeney-jacqueline.jpg cowdrey-matthew.jpgLondon’s Paralympic Games ended on Sunday with a full board of new records attesting to the intensifying competition in this branch of global elite sport.

paralympic-logo.pngAmong admittedly hundreds of events, hundreds also produced new record performances, as in the major areas of track and field athletics, with 180 new records before the end of the final day, and swimming, with 157.

In sports where winning margins, and gains being made, are still extremely wide by the precision standards set at the Olympic Games, Paralympics observers are noting a double trend: new records are being set, but the figures are tightening up; e.g. where swimmers may have taken four seconds off a record before, this year it was more likely to be under two.

olympics-london-4.jpgThat phenomenon did not mean that dramatic clashes and king-hits would not take place, delighting capacity crowds always at the major venues  — hundreds of thousands keeping the Olympic party going by turning out in the same numbers.

freney-j-2.jpgAustralia’s Jacqueline Freney (pictures) gave a demonstration of the upsets to be had, in the pool on Saturday: the anchor swimmer in the women’s 4X100 metres relay chased down a Russian competitor who had a seven-second lead, to get a gold medal for the team – and her own eighth “gold” for 2012.  She’s 20 from Ballina Shire in New South Wales. Less than half a second separated the first four teams at the end of that race.

cowdrey-2.jpgThe swimmers generally held up the end for the Australian team, well exceeding their previous gold medal tally; Matthew Cowdrey, 23, from Norwood in Adelaide (pictures), being the second stand-out with five “golds”.

The national team felt the effects of the tougher competition in Paralympic sport, where the competitors race in classifications, determined by a level of disability.

Holding onto fifth place in the medals tally, determined by the number of first-places, they earned 31 gold medals, against 63 won on home turf in Sydney, in 2000.

Rankings at the end, top 10:

China, 95 gold medals, 231 medals over-all.
Russia 35 (101).
Great Britain 33 (118).
Ukraine 32 (83).
Australia 31 (84).
USA 30 (96).
Brazil 21 (43).
Germany 18 (66).
Poland 14 (36).
Netherlands 10 (39).

Dramatic footnotes to the eleven days of competition:

Oscar Pistorius, 25, the “blade runner” from South Africa, won his gold medal for the T44 classification 400 metres event on Saturday.

The amputee who made his name by insisting on, and getting a run in the Olympics, using his blades, got into controversy earlier in the week, complaining that a competitor’s blades gave him too much assistance.

The Australian “Steelers”, the men’s Wheelchair Rugby team, won their first gold medal in that robust competition, affectionately known to fans as “murder-ball”. They’d been placed before, but victory always eluded them until Sunday, when they beat Canada 66-51. The defending title-holders, the United States, were third.

Reference

Australian Paralymic Committee, Sydney, Home. http://www.paralympic.org.au/, (9.9.12).

International Paralympic Committee, Bonn, Official Website of the Paralympic Movement, “London 2012: Paralympic Games August 29th – September 9th”.
http://www.paralympic.org/, (9.9.12).

Pictures

paralympic.org, nsw.gov.au, wikipedia  

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