By winning three golds and two bronzes, Great Britain dominated canoe’s first Paralympic competition.
The competition was held in the Lagoa Stadium, at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon – the same place where the rowing finals took place on 11 September.
Jeanette Chippington took the first gold in the women’s KL1 with a time of 58.760, slightly ahead of Germany’s Edina Muller (58.874). Poland’s Kamila Kubas (1:00.232) collected bronze.
“When I crossed the finish line, I heard Edina screaming and I thought ‘I was ahead of her, but maybe she got me just at the line’ and then I realized I had won the gold and I still cannot believe it,” said Chippington.
The 46-year-old had claimed her last Paralympic gold 20 years ago in Atlanta, USA, when she was still a swimmer.
“I am so proud of myself and put so much hard work into this. It is just brilliant,” she added.
The second British gold of the day was sealed by Emma Wiggs with a time of 53.288 in the women’s KL2 final. Ukraine’s Nataliia Lagutenko (55.599) and Australia’s Susan Seipel (56.796) finished second and third, respectively.
“After my first stroke, I did what I always do. I cannot believe it,” said Wiggs.
Great Britain’s third canoe gold was also won by a female athlete, in this case by Anne Dickins in the KL3 category. A tiny margin of 0.03 seconds separated her from Australia’s silver medallist Amanda Reynolds, while France’s Cindy Moreau (52.103) took bronze.
Australia had their revenge in the men’s KL2, with Curtis McGrath finishing in 42.190 and capturing gold, more than a second ahead of Austria’s multi-world champion Markus Swoboda (43.726). Great Britain’s Nick Beighton (44.936) collected bronze.
“Markus is such a strong rival, the sport would not be the same without him. But I am happy to have won and hope me being on the spotlight can get more people involved with Paralympic sports,” said McGrath.
Poland’s Jakub Tokarz won the men’s KL1 race in 51.084, followed by Hungary’s Robert Suba (51.129) and Great Britain’s Ian Mardsen (51.220).
“I did not perform well yesterday, finishing third in my heat. I won the semi-finals but still did not feel good and thought I was going to end sixth or seventh in the final,” said Tokarz.
“But my coach gave me courage and told me to be as strong as a bull ahead of the final, and that I could win gold.”
The local crowd also had a reason to celebrate after Brazil’s Caio Ribeiro de Carvalho (40.199) took bronze in the men’s KL3. Ukraine’s Serhii Yemelianov (39.810) sealed gold, ahead of Germany’s Tom Kierey (39.909).