"He was in the lead at 60m, I think, but I pushed hard, and in the end it finished as it's finished in my dreams."
Germany’s Heinrich Popow finally got his London 2012 gold on Friday (7 September), when he set a new European record of 12.40 in the 100m T42 sprint to finish first.
After a mediocre start, the German above-the-knee amputee got into his stride and edged past Australia’s Scott Reardon to edge him out by just three hundredths of a second.
“It was my toughest race ever.” Popow said. “I said after Beijing, when I came second, that the only thing I would like to have now is the gold medal, and I got it.
“I pushed a lot from the beginning to the end. The Australian guy gave me a good race, and I didn't expect that he was that fast. He was in the lead at 60m, I think, but I pushed hard, and in the end it finished as it's finished in my dreams."
The Irish flags were out in force, meanwhile, as sprint sensation Jason Smyth, dubbed the fastest Paralympian on the planet, secured his second gold of the Games with victory in the men’s 200m T13.
Successfully defending the Paralympic sprint double he won in 2008, the Irishman looked invincible as he took an early lead out of the blocks and pulled away quickly from the rest of the field to cross the line in 21.05, bettering his own world record.
“The people here and the British and the Irish, the cheer and support for me has been absolutely fantastic and I'll never forget it,” said Smyth. “It is a home Games and it's been a pleasure to be here competing.”
Not to be outdone, China’s world record holder Liu Ping swiftly followed with her own sprint double, winning the 100m T35 to add to the 200m gold she took on Friday (31 August).
The 27-year-old also improved upon her world record mark as she swept past the European champion Oxana Corso to win in 15.44. In a repeat of the podium places in the 100m, Corso took silver and Virginia McLachlan claimed bronze.
There was further gold medal success for China on the track as world champion Li Huzhao powered through in the closing stages of the 200m T53 to win his second gold of games.
"I'm really excited and didn't expect this. I am a little surprised,” he said. “This medal means too much to me and I will give it to my family. I like it here and I like London - people they shout so loudly.”
China’s Zhang Lixin held on to the 400m T54 title he won in Beijing, coming off the final bend strongly before powering home to gold ahead of European champion Kenny van Weeghel.
In the women’s 1,500m T54, Tatyana McFadden made it a hat trick of gold medals so far, with the 100m T54 and marathon still to come. The 23-year-old made her move with 250m to go and drove strongly to the line. Edith Wolf took silver, her fourth medal of the Games.
"I'm very proud. It was a tough race,” said McFadden. “I had to stay relaxed and take it out on the last two laps. The 1,500m is not my event, it is out of my range. I'm still shocked that I won. I've never won so many golds in my life. It's so rewarding."
It was also gold number three for fellow American Raymond Martin, who swiftly took control of the 800m T52 to add to his victories in the 100m and 400m.
“I just wanted to get the experience at these Games and to get three gold medals is great. I didn't think I could be one of the fastest athletes on the track. The Paralympics has been so unreal, I never thought I'd be on the podium,” he said.
Cristian Valenzuela ran a superb race to win the 5,000m T11 alongside his guide Cristopher Guajardo, who wept tears of joy after crossing the line. The Chilean took up the running with less than three laps remaining, crossing the line in 15:26.26.
Jose Sayovo Armando won Angola’s first gold medal of the Games as he raced home to victory in the men’s 400m T11.
Last on the track was the first round of the men’s 400m T44, with defending champion Oscar Pistorius qualifying fastest with a season’s best 48.31. Blake Leeper won the first heat ahead of 200m champion Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliviera, with Liu Zhiming, David Behre and David Prince also through automatically.
Todd Hodgetts improved on the world record mark he set earlier this year to take victory in the shot put F20 with 16.29m, despite suffering an injury.
"I had an injury in my elbow. I nearly killed myself with my elbow, it was really painful. I stuck to it and kept to the plan and believed in myself,” said the Australian.
In the men’s discus 37/38, gold went to the 2008 champion Javad Hardani. The Iranian recorded a new F38 world record of 1024 points (52.91m), with silver going to Xia Dong with a F37 world record of 1017 points (55.81m).
Three world records fell in the men’s discus F32/33/34, with Wang Yanzhang setting a new F34 world record on his way to gold, scoring 1166 points (49.03m). Silver went to Hani Alnakhli, with a new F33 world record of 1113 points (34.65m) and bronze went to Lahouari Bahlaz with a new F32 world record of 1081 points (22.30m).
Defending champion and world ranked number one Ilse Hayes, leapt to victory in the long jump F13.