No. 16 Durand speeds to hat-trick of Paralympic titles

Cuba’s Omara Durand fulfilled her expectations as she set two world and one Paralympic record on her way to triple gold in the women’s 100m, 200m and 400m T12 events at Rio 2016. Durand’s achievements enter at No. 16 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2016. The 25-year-old arrived in Rio as the overwhelming favourite for the sprint events, especially after clocking 11.65 in the 100m T12 at last year’s Parapan American Games in Toronto, Canada, to become the world’s fastest female Paralympian in history. Toronto 2015 was Durand’s first event after taking a three-year sabbatical from the track following the birth of her first daughter Erika. But far from feeling satisfied, the Cuban went on to secure a hat-trick of titles at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar. In Rio, the Cuban began her quest for triple Paralympic gold with a stunning performance in the 100m T12 on 9 September, lowering her own world record with a time of 11.40 to seal the title. Fresh from winning her first gold, Durand said: “I know that right now all Cuban people are encouraging me, watching the race on TV and enjoying the result. It gives us a lot of life, strength and courage to go ahead.” She added another gold medal to her haul in the 200m T12 three days later, with a Paralympic record time of 23.05. “I am super happy, so excited. Having another medal for me and my country is so enjoyable. I want to win because there is rivalry, but the most important thing for me is to enjoy the race because the track is for all of us,” said Durand after winning her second Rio title. She dedicated this triumph to compatriot and athletics multi-Paralympic champion Yunidis Castillo, who could not finish the previous day’s 100m T47 final due to an injury. “This medal is mainly for her. Yesterday (11 September) she suffered a serious injury and I know that it is a bad moment for her now. It has happened to me before so I know how she feels,” said Durand. “We are all humans, we spend almost all our career together so when a teammate suffers, I suffer too.” Durand’s last gold medal came in the 400m T12 on 17 September, setting a world record (51.77) along the way. “Having won three titles at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games is huge for me because I trained very hard for this,” said the Cuban, who also claimed two Paralympic golds at London 2012. “Also, to be the fastest female Paralympian in the world makes me feel proud and motivates me to keep winning titles.” To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.