Seven gold medals were decided and four world records fell on the third morning of track and field action at Rio 2016 (Saturday 10 September).
Poland’s two-time Paralympic champion Ewa Durska secured her third Paralympic shot put F20 title, throwing a world record 13.94m with her penultimate attempt.
“In every attempt, I just wanted to throw as far as possible. I didn't look to see if it was the first, fifth or sixth attempt, I just wanted to throw as far as possible,” said Durska.
The 39-year-old, who also won the world title last year as well as the European title in June this year, was delighted with the win although she admitted it was not easy.
“It’s more difficult for me to defend the gold medal because there is a bigger pressure on you. Your rivals watch you, your every move. You watch them because you are afraid they will beat you.”
The Pole now plans to auction off her gold medal to raise money for charity.
“I want to collect money for children who are in orphanages,” she explained. “I've done everything. Now, if this medal can help anyone I want to do that. I made this decision six months ago. If I win gold here, I want to help children.”
Silver and bronze went to Ukraine’s Anastasiia Mysnyk (13.24m) and Great Britain’s Sabrina Fortune (12.94m) respectively.
China’s Liwan Yang finished over a metre clear of her rivals in the women’s shot put F54 as she safely held on to the title she won four years ago.
The 38-year-old’s second round effort of 7.89m was just one centimetre shy of the world record she set in Beijing, China, earlier this year.
Tunisia’s Hania Aidi (6.86m) and her compatriot Fadhila Nafati (6.38m) won silver and bronze respectively.
Just three centimetres separated the medallists in the men’s long jump T12 final, as South African Hilton Langenhoven pushed Azerbaijan’s reigning world champion Kamil Aliyev (7.05m) in to second place with his third round effort of 7.07m. Bronze went to Doniyor Saliev (7.04m) of Uzbekistan.
Brazil secured their third Para athletics gold medal thanks to world silver medallist Claudiney Batista, who won the men’s discus F56 with a Paralympic record of 45.33m. Silver went to Iran’s Alireza Ghaleh Nasseri (44.04m) and bronze was won by Cuban world champion Leonardo Diaz (43.58m).
There was a US one-two in the men’s 100m T52 – although perhaps not in the order many might have expected, as Gianfranco Iannotta (17.17) got the better of his teammate Ray Martin (17.25), the defending Paralympic champion and world record holder.
But it wasn’t the first time the 22-year-old had beaten his compatriot. Indeed, Iannotta topped the world rankings coming in to the Games, having won the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland.
Iannotta looked strong from the gun as he held off the world champion who was gaining ground as the finish line approached. Mexico’s Athens 2004 champion Salvador Hernandez (17.69), competing at his fifth Paralympic Games, won bronze.
“I felt really strong. I got off the line pretty good so I think it went really, really, well,” said Iannotta.
“It’s always a challenge going against Ray. He’s an incredible racer, very fast, very resilient. I knew it was going to be a challenge from the start.”
Tunisia took the top two spots in the women’s 1,500m T13, led by world champion Somaya Bousaid (4:21.45), with T12 Para athlete Najah Chouaya in second place. Bousaid had pulled clear of the field early on, with only Chouaya able to stay in touch.
With one lap to go the 36-year-old extended her lead, crossing the line over 30m clear of her rivals. Chouaya set a new T12 African record as she won silver ahead of Spain’s bronze medallist Izaskun Oses Ayucar (4:39.99).
Canada’s three-time Paralympic gold medallist Michelle Stilwell (1:05.43) was a convincing winner in the women’s 400m T52, coming off the final bend with a substantial lead as she powered to the line clocking a new Paralympic record.
“There was a high energy and it was incredible to come out on the track and take a moment to think that ‘this is my time to shine’,” explained Stilwell, who began her Paralympic career competing in wheelchair basketball at Sydney 2000.
Silver went to Belgium’s Marieke Vervoort (1:07.62) while the USA’s Kerry Morgan (1:08.31) took bronze.
Arguably the biggest cheer of the morning went to Brazil’s Petrucio Ferreira, who clocked a new world record in the men’s 100m T47 heats – despite easing up over the line.
The 19-year-old, who missed last year’s World Championships through injury, looked in terrific form as he stopped the clock at 10.67 – shaving an impressive 0.05 seconds off a mark that had stood since 1992.
“I came here today to give my best and go into the final. But at the time I entered the stadium and I saw it was packed, and the supporters shouting, suddenly my legs became so happy and they ran ‘alone’ - and I went behind them,” said Ferreira.
“I think tomorrow I can break the record again, but the most important for me is to win the gold medal.”
Ferreira’s teammate Yohansson Nascimento (10.75), gold medallist over 200m at London 2012, was next out on track and duly won his heat – to the further delight of the Brazilian crowd.
South African Charl du Toit (11.42) raced to a new world record as he led the qualifiers in the heats of the men’s 100m T37, knocking 0.01 seconds off the previous mark he set in Nottwil, Switzerland in May this year.
There was a world record too for Ukraine’s Leilia Adzhametova (11.86), who took 0.03 seconds off South African world champion Ilse Hayes mark as she won the opening heat of the women’s 100m T13. Hayes (12.34) cruised through in first place in the second heat to set up a thrilling final on Sunday (11 September).
Brazil’s world silver medallist Felipe Gomes (11.22), US world champion David Brown (11.35), Namibia’s 200m world silver medallist Ananias Shikongo (11.17) and French European champion Timothee Adolophe (11.11) were amongst the automatics qualifiers through to tonight’s semi-finals of the men’s 100m T11, while another home favourite, London 2012 silver medallist Lucas Prado (11.64), also progressed as one of the next fastest.