Multiple Paralympic champions Daniel Dias and Teresa Perales showed why they are still at the top of their respective games on Friday (16 September), with Dias holding onto his backstroke title and Perales winning her first women’s 50m S5 backstroke gold.
The Brazilian crowd got to cheer Dias on to gold for the third time in the men’s 50m backstroke S5, as the title holder since Beijing 2008 pulled away from his rivals to touch the wall in 35.40.
“I took the maximum advantage. I concentrated myself before getting into the pool, and it's time to enjoy this moment,” Dias said. “The public is loving it and when everybody’s silent it’s full concentration.”
Answering questions about his future, the 28-year-old Brazilian revealed that he “expects to be in Tokyo ” before completing a victory lap of the Aquatics Centre during his medal ceremony to the delight of his adoring fans.
Great Britain’s Andrew Mullen (37.94) found the silver ahead of Hungary’s Zsolt Vereczkei (38.92) in bronze.
Incredibly, Vereczkei has medalled in this event at every Paralympics since Barcelona 1992 including three golds between then and Sydney 2000. It was apt that the man who led the way for so long stepped onto the podium alongside Dias.
Another swimming legend also triumphed on Friday evening. Perales (43.03) clinched her first gold in the women’s backstroke S5 to add to her one silver and two bronze medals from previous editions. It was Perales’ seventh Paralympic title in a career that began at Sydney 2000.
Bela Trebinova got silver for Czech Republic (44.51) as Norway’s Sarah-Louise Rung (45.40) claimed bronze.
Arnost Petracek won Czech Republic’s first gold of Rio with victory in the men’s 50m backstroke S4 on the third time of asking. Petracek (43.12) powered to a new European record to beat China’s Yuntao Liu (45.01).
“I am feeling happy and the race was lovely,” Petracek said. “I did the race well with my rivals. It is my first gold in three Paralympics after Beijing and London. I put it down to hard work.”
Mexico’s Jesus Hernandez (45.30) was third as his teammate, and Paralympic champion Juan Reyes, just missed out on the podium for the first time since Sydney 2000 in fourth. Ironically the world record also belonged to Reyes as Petracek ushered in a new era.
Tamas Toth (1:04.30) impressed in the men’s 100m backstroke S9 to win Hungary’s first gold medal of Rio 2016. China’s Xiaobing Liu (1:04.46), a bronze medallist from four years ago, upgraded to silver. Australia’s world title holder Brenden Hall (1:04.67) was just behind for third.
Spain’s Israel Oliver (2:24.11) set a new European record on his way to gold in the men’s 200m individual medley SM11. The Spaniard masterfully won his second gold ahead of Ukraine’s Viktor Smyrnov (2:26.57) who repeated his silver medal from London 2012. Defending Paralympic champion Bozun Yang (2:27.82) this time left with bronze.
Belarusian Ihar Boki (50.90) stormed to his fifth gold medal of Rio 2016 in the men’s 100m freestyle S13. The reigning world and Paralympic champion has one more race on Saturday, the 100m backstroke, in which to cement his position in the top three most-decorated athletes.
Ukraine’s Iaroslav Denysenko (52.40) could not live with Boki’s pace, settling for silver ahead of teammate Maksym Veraksa (52.77) with bronze.
Australia’s Ellie Cole (1:09.18) retained her title in the women’s 100m backstroke S9 in a new Paralympic record time. The swimmer, who considered retiring after London 2012 but could not resist the water, edged Spain’s Nuria Marques Soto (1:09.57) into silver. The USA’s Hannah Aspden (1:10.67) was third.
“It’s day nine of the Championships and it’s hard for any athlete (to wait that long). I was watching the Olympic Games and hearing swimmers come out of the pool and say what a roller-coaster they were on and I know what they mean,” Cole said.
“I came in to this event as the world record holder but I was still feeling, ‘did I really deserve to be here’. No matter how much psychological training, the doubts still come.
“I had a lot of expectation on me after winning four golds in London.”
Further delight for Australia came in the women’s 50m freestyle S8 as Maddison Elliott led silver medallist teammate Lakeisha Patterson (30.13) to the wall in a new world record time of 29.73. The 17-year-old broke her own world record from 2014 to win her third gold. China’s Shengnan Jiang (30.53) took bronze with a new Asian record.
China picked up a further four golds on Friday, headlined by a world record from Wenpan Huang for his fifth gold and fourth world record.
Huang won the men’s 150m individual medley SM3 in 2:40.19 to break the record for the second time in three months. Ukrainian world champion Dmytro Vynohradets’ (2:40.75) European record time handed him the silver. Huang’s teammate Jianping Du (2:52.32) was third.
China’s Paralympic and world champion Shiyun Pan (1:00.82) won his third gold of Rio 2016 to sweep all his events and become a five-time Paralympic champion overall.
Colombia’s Carlos Serrano (1:01.84) nabbed his third medal to conclude a great Paralympic debut with silver. Ukraine’s Yevheniy Bohodayko (1:01.12) was third for his seventh medal of the Games
There was a second gold for China’s Yinan Wang (26.24) in the men’s 50m freestyle S8. The Ukrainian pairing of Bohdan Hrynenko (26.67) and Iurii Bozhynskyi (26.75) were a close second and third respectively.
Compatriots Jiao Cheng (48.11) and Yue Deng (50.01) occupied the top two spots on the podium in the women’s 50m backstroke S4, with Cheng collecting her third gold overall. Ukraine’s Maryna Verbova (52.28) took bronze.
The British women’s 4x100m medley relay 34 points team lowered their world record on the way to gold. Alice Tai and Claire Cashmore put in two great laps before Stephanie Slater moved into third position at just over halfway. Stephanie Millward just held on long enough to touch in first in 4:45.23 and break the three-year-old former best.
The Australian team of Ellie Cole, Madeleine Scott, Maddison Elliott and Lakeisha Patterson (4:45.85) took silver in a new Oceanian record time. The USA’s Hannah Aspden, Elizabeth Marks, Elizabeth Smith and Michelle Konkoly (4:50.34) sealed bronze for a new Americas mark.
The USA’s Mckenzie Coan (1:09.99) won her third individual gold in the women’s 100m freestyle S7. Her world champion teammate Cortney Jordan (1:12.80) looked absolutely overwhelmed with the US one-two as she took silver, holding her head and sobbing as she embraced Coan on the deck.
“We are training partners, we spend every day together, she lives two miles up the road, she is my best friend,” Coan said. “Having her by my side pushes me, I don’t know if I would be so fast without her.”
China’s Huang Yajing (1:12.85) completed the top three with a new Asian record.
Dutch youngster Liesette Bruinsma (2:49.87) sealed her second gold of the meet in the women’s 200m individual medley SM11. Sweden’s Maja Reichard (2:51.72) finished second behind the 16-year-old. China’s Qing Xie (2:51.98) set a new Asian record for third.
“I wanted to do my best and won the race so I am very happy and excited,” Bruinsma said. “It was very special and I will never forget what has happened here. The competition has been great and it has been a great memory.”
Great Britain’s Hannah Russell took an early lead in the women’s 100m freestyle S13, only to be overtaken in the last 25m by a speeding Anna Stetsenko, of the Ukraine, who moved up from fourth.
World champion Stetsenko (59.19), and then the USA’s Rebecca Myers (59.77), overtook Russell (1:00.07) who claimed bronze.
Swimming will conclude on Saturday (17 September).
Live coverage and results of swimming is available at Paralympic.org. Live updates will also be posted to IPC Swimming’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.