Tomoki Sato carried the hopes of the host nation on the first day of Para athletics and he did not disappoint. The five-time world champion won Japan’s first gold medal at the National Stadium in the men’s 400m T52 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Day one also saw Brazil’s Petrucio Ferreira blast to victory in the men’s 100m T47 to successfully defend his Paralympic Games title on Friday (27 August).
Sato stormed to victory in 55.39 to set a Paralympic record. In a re-run of the Rio 2016 final, he took revenge on USA’s Raymond Martin, who beat him five years earlier.
The 31-year-old world record holder came out fighting from the start as he sped around the track closely pursued by Martin, but Sato edged ahead in the second half of the race to land first.
The 27-year-old USA athlete crossed the line 0.20 seconds behind in 55.59 with Sato’s teammate Hirokazu Ueyonabaru in bronze in 59.95.
"Five years ago, after losing to Martin in Rio, I wanted to get revenge in Tokyo and try for the world record,” said Sato, who took up athletics after watching London 2012.
“I am an athlete who starts to improve in the second half of the race, so I was able to stab it back on the back straight at the end, which I think was exciting and enjoyable for the spectators. I will try to win the world record and the gold medal in the 1500m, which is coming up in two days," he said.
Scary injury do not stop Ferreira
In the men’s 100m T47, Brazil’s Ferreira who was tipped to become the fastest Para athlete on the planet had to settle for a Paralympic record of 10.53 seconds.
"A week before the competition I sustained a thigh injury on my left leg,” Ferreira said. "That was quite scary.
“We [he and his wife] have had a lot of video calls the past couple of days. Maybe she was more nervous than I was. I told her, 'stay calm, I am sure I will recover in time and I will go for that medal’. It's my second Paralympics and to defend my title is absolutely amazing."
USA’s Nick Mayhugh lowered the world record he had set in the heats to 10.95 seconds as he triumphed in the final of the men’s 100m T37.
In the women’s 200m T37 Xiaoyan Wen from China shattered her own world record as she led home a Chinese one-two in 26.58 seconds.
“This record surprises me but from the bottom of my heart I can say I prepared very well through my training and that is the result,” Wen said.
Debut for Alia Issa
DI Dongdong landed more gold for China in the men’s long jump T11 with USA’s world champion Lex Gillette settling for silver for the fifth consecutive Games.
Brazil’s Wallace Santos dominated the men’s shot put F55 and saved his best effort until last with a world record throw of 12.63 metres.
There was also a world record in the women’s club throw F32 with Poland’s Roza Kozakowska (28.74). The event marked Alia Issa’s debut as the first female athlete to compete for the Refugee Paralympic Team. She ended in eight place.
Albert Khinchagov gave RPC the gold in the men’s shot put F37 (15.78).
For full Para athletics schedule and results from Tokyo 2020 are available here.