The Barra Olympic Park played host to its biggest ever crowd on Saturday (10 September) as sports fans flocked to watch another day of high-quality Paralympics action.
The total of 167,000 spectators – many of them children – topped the 150,000 who visited the park on the busiest day of the Olympics last month.
They created a carnival-like atmosphere befitting the world-class sport on offer and a number of the athletes highlighted the way the bumper audience had spurred them on to even greater physical feats.
It was a historic day at the Games’ Copacabana venue too, as the first-ever triathlon took place in and alongside the Atlantic Ocean.
Germany’s Martin Schulz took the historic first Paralympic triathlon gold, and there were also wins later in the day for Great Britain’s Andrew Lewis and Jetz Plat of the Netherlands. The women will battle it out on the spectacular course on Sunday (11 September).
At the Olympic Stadium the surprise headline-makers were Malaysian pair Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi and Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, who claimed the country’s first-ever Paralympic gold medals in the 100m T36 and the shot put F20 respectively.
An emotional Zolkefli dedicated the result to “my family, my country and for all Malaysians”. “This is the result of my life,” he added.
Established names including Great Britain’s defending 100m T34 champion Hannah Cockroft and Germany’s Vanessa Low, who took the long jump T42 in a new world-record time, also picked up golds at the Olympic Stadium.
Germany claimed another gold medal thanks to Daniel Scheil’s success in the men’s shot put F33 competition.
At the Aquatics Centre, Colombia celebrated its first Paralympic gold for 36 years when teenager Carlos Serrano stormed to victory in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB7.
But those hoping to see favourite Daniel Dias defend his title in the men’s 50m butterfly S5 witnessed the biggest surprise of the night as the Brazilian was beaten into third place by winner American Roy Perkins and China’s Shiwei Hu.
Perkins said afterwards he had worked for four years to beat Dias. “I knew during those years that to do it in front of his home audience would be a big deal,” he said. “The whole building was shaking, I think the water was probably shaking. It excited me.”
The venues across the Olympic Park hosted their biggest audiences of the Games so far, including for wheelchair tennis where the top seeds made progress in the opening day of the women’s singles competition.
The judo competition came to a close in Carioca Arena 3 with Uzbekistan cementing its place at the top of the sport’s medal table.
That was confirmed by Adiljan Tuledibaev who stunned the crowd by taking just two seconds to send Brazil’s world number one Wilians Silva de Araujo crashing to the mat for ippon in the men’s over 100kg event.
There was to be no gold medal on home soil for Brazil’s four-time Paralympic champion Antonio Tenorio who had to settle for silver in the men’s up to 100kg final. However, he left open the prospect of competing in a seventh Paralympics at Tokyo.
In the velodrome, gold medal winners included Alyda Norbruis of the Netherlands in the women’s C1-2-3 500m time trial, Chian’s Zhangyu Li in the men’s C1-2-3 1000m time trial, and Kadeena Cox, of Great Britain, who took gold in the Women’s C4-5 500m time trial.
In powerlifting, Ukranian legend Lidiia Soloviova won her third Paralympic gold medal in the women’s up to 50kg category, setting a new Paralympic record in the process.
It was all about the women in the day’s mixed competition in the shooting at Deodoro. Veronica Vadovicova overcame a world-class field in R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1) to claim her and Slovakia’s second gold medal of the Games.
And Veselka Pevec won a nail-biting battle for gold to earn Slovenia their first gold medal of the Games in a much-anticipated R4 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2) final.
Saturday night’s big clash in the men’s wheelchair basketball saw Great Britain triumph 73-55 against hosts Brazil in front of a packed, partisan crowd.
Other winners in the wheelchair basketball qualifying games included the men’s teams of Turkey, Australia, the USA, Germany and the Netherlands. In the women’s fixtures there were victories for Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the USA.
Bosnia and Herzegovina joined Iran as winners in the men’s sitting volleyball group games, whilst there were victories for the women’s teams of China and the United States.
The goalball group matches continued with Turkey beating China and Australia and Ukraine playing out a 2-2 draw in the women’s competition. Turkey, Lithuania and Canada were all victorious in the men’s competition.
In the football 7s there were wins for Brazil, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Iran.
It was the first day of competition in boccia where there was a full set of group fixtures and in the archery, where there were men’s and women’s individual events and mixed events.
Qualification events continued in the rowing competition at Lagoa, where the first medals of the Games will be contested tomorrow. There will also be medals up for grabs in table tennis where the competition reached the quarter-finals stage on Saturday.