Australia’s Jasmine Greenwood is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. In a span of a year, she was a Paralympic medallist, World Championships medallist and a Commonwealth Games champion.
Greenwood, the youngest athlete in Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic squad, came out with a dominant show to lead in every turn and win the women's 200m individual medley SM10 at Birmingham 2022 in 2:33.29.
Greenwood’s compatriot Keira Stephens finished 3.39 behind for the bronze, while Canada’s Aurelie Rivard (2:34.26) took the silver at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre on Tuesday (2 August).
It was the 17-year-old’s first gold medal in a major event and Greenwood is already motivated to do well at the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
“It felt really hard but I’m glad it turned out the way it did," she said. “It was a bit of a blur. It just happened very quickly. I wasn’t too worried about anyone else.
"I just wanted to do my own race, and I could on the freestyle - I was in front - but I thought I had to just keep going.”
Greenwood added that the Birmingham 2022, her second Commonwealth Games appearance, helped her grow as an athlete:
“My first one was at Gold Coast  as a 13-year-old, and I don’t think I took it all in as you would. So, this has been really eye-opening for me and has been a fun experience. It’s made me mature as an athlete.”
Australia take one-two position
Australia had more moments of glory at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre as they claimed the one-two position in the men’s 100m butterfly S10 final.
In a thrilling final, Paralympic medallist Col Pearse (56.91) finished the race in 0.62 ahead of Alex Saffy (57.53) for the gold. England’s James Hollis (58.55) claimed the bronze.
“I set a goal for myself to go 56.80 seconds after Tokyo [2020 Olympic Games] but I will still take a 56:91.
“I’ll still be happy with it - it’s a Commonwealth Games gold medal,” said Pearse, who had started the sport in 2012 looking up to Paralympic legend Ellie Cole, who announced her retirement a day before at Birmingham 2022.
Canada’s swimming sensation Nicholas Bennett provided a fitting finale to the Para swimming competition on Wednesday (3).
In men's 200m freestyle S14 final, Bennett came out with a stunning show touching in 1:54.97 for the gold and a new Games record. The Worlds silver medallist defeated Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion Benjamin Hance (1:55.50) by 0.53.
The bronze was claimed by another Australian Jack Ireland (1:56.50).
“I haven’t fully comprehended it yet. I am absolutely ecstatic,” said Bennett on his Commonwealth victory.
The 18-year-old, who became a revelation in Para swimming when he won three gold medals at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games at the age of 15, added on his race plan:
“Mostly. It was just go easy in the first 100. I think I adhered to that. We just had to hunker down for the last 100.”
In the other race of the final evening, Northern Ireland’s Bethany Firth took the gold in women’s 200m freestyle S14, ahead of England’s Jessica-Jane Applegate (2:08.56) and Louise Fiddes (2:11.22), in a repeat of the Madeira 2022 200m freestyle S14 podium where they competed as teammates for Great Britain.
"I’ve got Paralympic gold, I’ve got world gold and European gold. This [gold] was the one I didn’t have, so I just wanted to go out there, get the full collection and show what I can do," Firth said.
"I definitely wanted to come out here and make a mark as the first woman to win the S14 [at the Commonwealth Games]. I wanted to put a standard out there to show what we can do, and hopefully inspire some people."
Complete results of the Para swimming competition at the Birmingham 2022 are available here.