"I would have written a Hollywood script to try to finish on that note and I don't think it would be possible.”
The eighth night of swimming at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was littered with thrilling finishes and seven world records on Thursday (15 September) at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium.
One of those records was set by the USA’s Brad Snyder.
It was only around the last 25m where the question was not whether Snyder would win, but whether he would break his own world record.
He did by one second, winning the men’s 100m freestyle S11 in 56.15. It was the first Paralympic medal he won four years ago, and he finished his second Games with three golds and a silver. Snyder began to pull away from China’s Bozun Yang (59.51), who picked up the silver, and Japan’s Keiichi Kimura (59.63).
"I have been visualising that moment every day for at least the last year, coming into that wall and hearing that time," Snyder said. "It is true now. Finishing this meet with the 100, with that world record - this is the script we wrote, the one we wanted.
"I have got to be honest, I had some doubts today. I was feeling a little worn down, but I wanted it real bad."
As for thrillers, Greece’s Dimosthenis Michalentzakis (59.27) stunned the field as he clinched the men’s 100m butterfly S9 gold. The 17-year-old just missed the podium at the 2015 World Championships. But this time he came out on top, stunning Hungary’s bronze medallist Tamas Sors’ (59.85) attempt at three straight Paralympic titles. Italy’s Federico Morlacchi (59.52) made a strong push to come through for the silver.
"My mind clicked and I just remembered all the encouraging messages and wishes that I got before coming here,” Michalentzakis said. “I had all of these in my heart as I swam and that is how I finished."
Six more world records were reset Thursday night, two that came from Ukraine.
Ievgenii Bogodaiko (1:18.71) lowered the world record he set back at London 2012 by nearly two seconds to claim the men’s 100m breaststroke SB6 gold. It was his third gold – and sixth medal so far – at Rio 2016 and second world record. Colombia’s Worlds runner-up Nelson Crispin (1:21.47) took his second silver of the Games. Germany’s Torben Schmidtke (1:23.47) secured the bronze.
Teammates Maksym Krypak and Denys Dubrov were well below the world record when they approached the final metres of the men’s 400m freestyle S10. It was Krypak (3:57.71) who took the top prize, shaving about six seconds off the world record. Dubrov (4:00.11) finished with the silver. Canada’s Benoit Huot (4:04.63), who won gold back at Athens 2004, finished in third place to claim his 20th career Paralympic medal.
"I would have written a Hollywood script to try to finish on that note and I don't think it would be possible,” Huot said. “It's like a dream come true and I can leave in peace with number 20 in the pocket.
"I was on my balcony in the [athletes] village every day getting the sun and the air and the nice view of the lagoon and I was telling myself, 'How lucky you are to be here and to live this after so many years again.' I just feel like a little kid again and the magic is back.”
Ukraine’s Hennadii Boiko also convincingly won the men’s 50m backstroke S1 in 1:00.85. Italy’s Francesco Bettella (1:12.49) took the silver and Ukraine’s Anton Kol (1:15.42) took the third spot.
After not getting the world record she hoped for in the women’s 100m freestyle S10, Canada’s Aurelie Rivard was more than a body-length under the mark in the women’s 400m freestyle S10. Her time of 4:29.96 locked her third gold medal. It was a race for silver between Australia’s Monique Murphy and France’s former world record holder Elodie Lorandi. Murphy managed to push for the silver in 4:35.09, as defending Paralympic champion Lorandi (4:35.49) claimed bronze.
China collected another four gold medals to add to their medal-table topping tally.
Wenpan Huang (3:09.04) registered his fourth world record at Rio 2016, this one coming in men’s 200m freestyle S3. He now owns five Paralympic medals from Rio, four that are gold. He just beat out Ukraine’s Dmytro Vynohradets (3:09.77). China’s Hanhua Li (3:23.10) took bronze.
Liankang Zou broke the men’s 50m backstroke S2 world record to claim the gold in 47.17. Fellow Chinese swimmer Benying Liu (48.84) was runner-up and Ukraine’s Serhii Palamarchuk (50.23) rounded off the podium.
The women’s 100m freestyle S11 was a close race to the wall. Qing Xie was crowned the new champion, winning in 1:08.03. She beat teammate Guizhi Li (1:08.31) and the Netherlands’ world-record holder Liesette Bruinsma (1:08.55), who went silver-bronze, respectively.
In the women’s 100m butterfly S9. China’s 14-year-old Jialing Xu (1:07.90) just out-touched Spain’s Sarai Gascon (1:08.00) by a nail. It was the Spaniard’s third silver at Rio 2016. Hungary’s Zsofia Konkoly, also 14, completed the podium in 1:09.21.
Australia rounded out the world-record night by winning the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay 34 points in 4:16.65 thanks to Ellie Cole, Lakeisha Patterson, Maddison Elliott and Ashleigh McConnell. The USA pulled out the silver in 4:20.10, and China came in third at 4:24.22.
Australia’s Paralympic debutant Tiffany Thomas Kane captured her first Paralympic gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB6. The 15-year-old fell just short of the mark she set last year, clocking 1:35.39. The USA’s Sophia Elizabeth Herzog (1:36.95) picked up the silver. After just missing the podium at her home Games four years ago, Great Britain’s Charlotte Henshaw (1:37.79) claimed the bronze.
"I'm really so happy. I wanted to win that medal. I wanted to get the gold,” Kane said.
"I was very nervous considering it was my main event and I just had a lot of pressure on me, but I thought of it as 'try your best.' I wanted to do my best time.”
Sarah Louise Rung showed why she is the world champion in the women’s 200m individual medley SM5. The Norwegian improved on her silver from London 2012, winning Thursday’s race in 3:15.83. Spain’s Teresa Perales (3:36.14) was second and Israel’s Inbal Pezaro (3:38.20) took the bronze.
"It's a tough race. I have both strength and endurance. I know with the amount of training I do I'm strong in this event,” Rung said.
Singapore’s Pin Xu Yip won her second gold at the Games. She captured the women’s 50m backstroke S2 in 1:00.33. China’s Yazhu Feng (1:02.66) and Ukraine’s Iryna Sotska (1:17.22) completed the podium with silver and bronze respectively.