Venezuela wins historic Paralympic golds in a span of 15 minutes

Rising stars from Hungary, Netherlands and Spain also triumph for the first time on day five, while China consolidates its lead with three more victories 31 Aug 2021
Two female runners in a track under rain
Venezuela's Lisbeli Vera Andrade crossing the finishing line ahead of USA's Brittni Mason by 0.001 to take gold in Tokyo
ⒸOIS/Thomas Lovelock
By OIS and World Para Athletics

It was a night to remember for Venezuela on day five of the Para athletics action at the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

Until Tuesday, 31 August the South American nation had one Paralympic gold in history from Beijing 2008 in judo. Then, they celebrated two titles inside 15 minutes.

First with Linda Perez in the women’s 100m T11 (12.05), then with Lisbeli Vera Andrade in the women’s 100m T47 (11.97) - a millisecond ahead of USA's Brittni Mason.

"It's very difficult to express my feelings, to be able to bring the medal to my country. I'm very excited," said Andrade.

"When I crossed the finish line I didn't realise I'd won, because Brittni Mason was a very strong competitor. When I finished I didn't know how to express my feelings in the moment."

Iglesias wins for her adopted country

Adiaratou Iglesias celebrated being crowned Paralympic champion for her adopted Spain after triumphing in the women’s 100m T13 in 11.96.

"In Mali, people with albinism are chased because of superstitions,” the 22-year-old said, who moved to Spain when she aged 11. "Life would be completely different [to life now]."

Ekler and Gansewinkel get first golds

Hungary's Luca Ekler is another rising European star who won her first Paralympic gold medal on day five. She triumphed in the women's long jump T38 breaking her own new world record twice to take gold with 5.63m.

"It’s a dream come true. I can’t find any words to express myself. I am incredibly happy. I wanted to beat my world record and when I did it the first time [5.60 on her first attempt], I was like, ‘oh my god', I really did this."

Marlene van Gansewinkel from the Netherlands added the Paralympic title to her European Championships gold in the women's 200m T64 (26.22). It was her first Paralympic gold as well.

Maksym Koval from Ukraine won the men's shot put F20 with a new world record (17.34m) in a decision which is pending an appeal from Australia, Ecuador and Malaysia.

The last European gold of the day came in the men's 400m T20. French Para athlete Charles-Antoine Kouakou won with a 47.63-time.

McFadden left empty-handed

Meanwhile, China's Zhou Zhaoqian saw off a talented field to win a rain-lashed women’s 1500m T54 and secure her first Paralympic title (3:27.63).

“It’s the first time [racing in rain such as this]. I was pretty worried I wouldn’t do well, but I did better than I expected. I let everything flow and didn’t think too much,” said Zhaoqian.

USA's Tatyana McFadden, chasing the 20th medal of her Games career - including a Para Nordic skiing silver from Sochi 2014 - faded to fifth. Switzerland's Manuela Schaer finished with silver and Australia's Madison de Rozario with bronze. 

Despite McFadden's unsuccessful quest towards the medal, the USA won two golds in the night session on day five. Sam Grewe celebrated victory in the men's high jump T63 (1.88m) after taking silver five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

"That's what fuelled me. I came out and I missed the first two attempts at 1.88m. I remember very vividly at my starting line looking up at the board and seeing my name second, and I knew at that jump I was going to clear it because I was not ready to walk away with the silver again," he said.

Breanna Clark won the women's 400m T20 with a new world record (55.18).

China tops the medals table

At the same distance in the men's T38 class, Mexico's Jose Rodolfo Chessani won gold with a time of 49.99.

Besides Zhaoqian's, China bagged two more golds in the evening session and now tops the Para athletics medal table with 16.

Li Liu triumphed in the men's shot put F32 with a new world record (12.97m), while Fenfen Jiang won gold in the women's 400m T37 (1:01.36), the last event of the day.

Complete results and medallists from the afternoon session can be found on