Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu* needed 4:23.24 to make history at the National Olympic Stadium giving Ethiopia its first-ever Paralympic gold medal on Saturday evening (28 August).
The women’s 1500m T13 was the first final in a major Para athletics competition for the 21-year-old who triumphed ahead of USA’s silver medallist Liza Corso and Tunisia’s bronze medallist Somaya Bousaid.
But the evening also saw experienced Paralympians topping the podium in Tokyo.
Marcel Hug blasted to gold medal glory in a wheelchair he helped design. Switzerland’s Silver Bullet shot down the home straight to snatch victory in the men’s 5000m T54 by just 0.29 seconds.
“There was pressure because I really wanted to show the chair is good,” Hug said. “I’m so thankful I was involved in this project, and I wanted to give back with a medal.
“It was an amazing journey, three or four years developing and working hard to make a good chair. In the end I was not in a perfect position to attack, but could still make it from third position to the front.”
Canada’s Brent Lakatos finished with the silver. The bronze went to Thailand’s Putharet Khongrak.
Double South African glory
South Africa celebrated double gold. Ntando Mahlangu took his first Paralympic title in the men’s long jump T63 with a world record leap of 7.17m in the last attempt while Anrune Weyers had a commanding victory in the women’s 400m T47.
“It was a bit risky to put it on the last jump, but I believed in my plan and my coach, and it worked,” Mahlangu said. “I didn’t think I was going for gold, I was just going to do my best.”
New Zealand’s Lisa Adams won the women’s shot put F37 gold medal after being coached by elder sister Valerie, the two-time Olympic champion, who took bronze at the stadium on 1 August.
“Getting to hug her straight after the competition was so emotional, but embracing her was so special to me,” said gold medallist Adams.
“Who would have thought? I’ve only been doing this for three years but far out, I get to come and have a little taste of her world. It is so special.
“To have her coaching me, and trying to absorb everything I can from her, I’ll cherish it forever.”
Sophie Hahn and Thomas Young roared to a sprint double to give Britain their first gold medals in Para athletics.
Hahn, who equalled her women’s 100m T38 world record in the heats, was slower in the final but defended her title from Rio 2016 while teammate Young triumphed in the men’s 100m T38.
“I’m hoping to win them [Paralympic gold medals] all up until Brisbane 2032,” said YOUNG. “We can see where we are then. That’s a good 11 years, another three Paralympics.”
China bagged a gold in the men’s club throw F32. Li Liu broke the world record three times on his way to victory (38.68m).
Iran’s Amanolah Papi did not have the same luck. He broke the men’s javelin F57 world record four times only to see Azerbaijan’s beat his mark on his fifth throw to take gold (51.42m).
Para athletics continues on Sunday (29) at the National Stadium with 24 finals. Complete results can be found on Paralympic.org.
* The initial version of this article misspelled the name of the Ethiopian athlete as Tigist Gezahagn Menigstu not Mengistu.