Brazil’s teenage sensation Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos got the home crowds roaring as he smashed the world record to take gold in the men’s 100m T47 on day four (Sunday 11 September) of track and field action at Rio 2016.
The 19-year-old, who only took up Para athletics two years ago, saw off an undeniably talented field including two-time world champion Michal Derus (10.79) of Poland as well as his Brazilian teammate and 2011 world champion Yohansson Nascimento (10.79).
All three sprinters started well, with Derus marginally ahead in the first half of the race. But Ferreria dos Santos, who missed last year’s World Championships through injury, showed his class as he moved up another gear to put daylight between him and his rivals and cross the line in a new world record 10.57 seconds.
“When the race ends I think about everything that happened in my life: where I come from and where I am today,” said Ferreira dos Santos, who took a phenomenal 0.1 seconds off the world record he set in the semi-finals a day previously. The previous best going in to the Games had stood for 24 years.
“Listening to the Brazilian anthem on the top of the podium I remembered these days when I came back home and I could not even take a shower because of my tiredness.
“I worked so hard to win this medal, our Brazil medal. I'd like to dedicate it to the whole country, my state Paraiba and mainly to my parents,” he added.
Derus and Nascimento battled it out for second place, with both Para athletes clocking 10.79 as the Pole was awarded silver.
There was a world record too for Ukraine’s Leilia Adzhametova (11.79), who smashed the time she set in the 100m T13 semi-finals to clinch her first Paralympic title ahead of South African Ilse Hayes.
It was Hayes, the reigning world champion and two-time 100m Paralympic silver medallist, who got off to the best start. But Adzhametova came through strongly in the last 50m to knock a further 0.07 seconds off her previous best and deny the 31-year-old South African the sprint title she has been chasing since Athens 2004.
Gold did go South Africa’s way, however, when Charl du Toit won the men’s 100m T37, sprinting past Egyptian Mostafa Mohamed, who was fastest out of the blocks. Du Toit took the tape in 11.45 – just 0.03 seconds off the world record mark he set in qualifying.
“I didn't get a good start. The Egyptian next to me got a good start but I just stayed relaxed and went through. I had to work for this one,” admitted du Toit.
“My dad always taught me the key to success is to enjoy what you do and you'll never work a day in your life. I love athletics, I love doing this, and my uncle passed away two weeks ago and I promised him I’d give him a smile.”
Mohamed (11.54) held on for silver as du Toit’s teammate Fanie van der Merwe (11.54) took bronze.
Thailand’s Prawat Wahoram (11:01.71) took gold in a slow-run men’s 5,000m T54, adding to the 5,000m titles he won at Athens 2000 and Beijing 2008.
The 10 finalists remained as a pack for much of the race, coasting around with no competitor seemingly willing to take the race on.
Then with two laps to go Thai duo Rawat Tana and Wahoram took to the front, as Swiss star Marcel Hug pushed in to third on the outside.
With 200m to go it was Wahoram who had the strongest acceleration, powering down the home straight with Hug unable to catch the leader.
Hug (11:02.04) claimed silver, his fourth Paralympic medal – he won two silvers at London 2012 and two bronze at Athens 2004. He continues his quest for Paralympic gold in the 800m, 1,500m and marathon T54 at Rio 2016. Bronze went to Australia’s multiple Paralympic and world champion Kurt Fearnley (11:02.37).
Ireland’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Michael McKillop, added yet another gold medal to his collection as he took the win in the men’s 1,500m T37.
Favourite going in to the race, the 26-year-old had company for the first three laps as Algeria’s Madjid Djemai went out strongly and Canada’s Liam Stanley worked hard to keep in touch.
But in the end there was no doubting McKillop as he raced clear with 250m to go, with Stanley (4:16.72) winning silver and Djemai (4:17.28) the bronze.
“I'm just glad, it's a relief. It was tough to get my emotions under control considering how much this meant for me, my family, my fiancée and everyone back home,” said McKillop.
“Para sport back home is getting bigger and if we can put gold medals on the table and show where we have come, then we can get the movement forward.”
Thailand’s 19-year-old world bronze medallist Paeyo Pongsakorn (47.91) powered home to win the men’s 400m T53 ahead of 100m gold medallist Brent Lakatos (48.53) of Canada, who set a new Americas record as Frenchman Pierre Fairbank (49.00) won bronze.
World records continued to fall out in the field, too, as China took gold and silver in the women’s discus F44.
Juan Yao only managed to register two throws, but her opening attempt of 44.53m added 1.14m on to the world record she set on her way to winning the world title last October.
Yue Yang (43.47m), silver medallist in at Doha 2015, had to make do with second place once more while bronze went to Cuba’s Noraivis de la Heras Chibas (32.47m) with a new Americas record.
Malaysia clinched their third Paralympic gold with a new world record too as reigning world champion Abdul Latif Romly won the long jump T20 with a superb leap of 7.60m in the fifth round.
Croatia’s Zoran Talic (7.12m) and Ukraine’s Dmytro Prudnikov (6.99m) won silver and bronze respectively.
Iraq clinched gold and silver in the men’s javelin F41 as Kovan Abdulraheem (42.85m) won the battle for gold. The 28-year-old world silver medallist set a new personal best in the third round, which proved enough to take the title ahead of his teammate Wildan Nukhailawi, who went one better than his bronze medal from London 2012.
China’s world champion and world record holder Pengxiang Sun (41.81m) won bronze and Iraq’s F40 thrower Ahmad Naas set a new javelin world record in his class as he managed 35.29m to finish ninth.
Moroccan Azeddine Nouiri (11.28m) set a new African record in the men’s shot put F34 as he safely held on to the title he won four years ago, with Qatari Abdulrahman Abdulrahman (11.15m) in second place and Colombia’s Mauricio Valencia (11.10m) in third.