Friday 28 October 2016

ParalympicsGB claim 21 medals on Super Sunday in Rio

Published 11/09/2016 | 20:56

Richard Whitehead defended his 200 metre title
Richard Whitehead defended his 200 metre title

Great Britain's Paralympians snared 21 medals on day four, eight of them gold, on Super Sunday in Rio.

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Britain claimed three golds from four rowing finals, added two more on the cycling track and swimmer Bethany Firth won her second gold of the Rio Games - and Britain's 50th medal.

Richard Whitehead surged to a successful defence of the T42 200 metres title he won at London 2012 before Joanna Butterfield won the F51 club throw.

The haul of eight gold, six silver and seven bronze medals saw Britain's total climb to 56 and surpassed the previous best day's haul of the XV Paralympics, on Friday's second day.

It was Britain's best one-day haul of the last three Paralympics. The best at Beijing in 2008 was 19 and the best at London 2012 was 18.

Britain are bidding for at least 121 medals - one more than won at London 2012 - and second on the medal table behind China.

The absence of Russia, banned by the International Paralympic Committee for state-sponsored doping, helps, but so far the ParalympicsGB team is delivering after their Olympic counterparts surpassed their targets last month.

"This has followed on from the success of Team GB, to try and be the greatest team ever," said Whitehead, the track and field team captain.

Rachel Morris won Britain's first gold of the day - and first of four medals from four rowing finals, three of them gold.

And Butterfield rounded off the day with her win, soon after Whitehead had triumphed, with David Henson third behind his team-mate.

Butterfield awoke from surgery to remove a tumour on her spinal cord in January 2010 paralysed from the chest down, but four years on she is a Paralympic champion having won with a world record throw.

The 37-year-old, who lives in Glasgow, said: "I smashed it. This is what you dream of.

"It was hard work to get here - it's been six years since a life changing experience so to then be here on the biggest stage in the world... it feels amazing."

Butterfield was a civil servant in the army before being medically discharged, while Henson was serving with the Royal Engineers in 2011 when he stood on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He had amputations to both legs.

The 31-year-old said: "Rio 2016 was always the aim but some people thought Tokyo was more realistic.

"With hard work and determination you can prove people wrong. I am here with a bronze medal around my neck - I mean they don't give these out, you have to work hard for them."

Henson's bronze followed a significant gold for RAF weapons technician turned cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth.

Butterworth claimed three silver medals at London 2012 and his gold as part of the C1-5 team sprint with Jody Cundy and Louis Rolfe was the first for a British veteran injured in the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts.

The 30-year-old from Sutton Coldfield was working in Basra when he was caught in a rocket attack and had to have his left arm amputated as a result of his injuries.

He joined the Battleback programme - a partnership between the British Paralympic Association and the Ministry of Defence - and now is a Paralympic champion.

"There was no way I was going to come this far for silver," Butterworth said.

"I just wanted that one gold. I know those were a home Games but to be on the top step, you can't beat that feeling and that's the first time I have done it at a Paralympic Games."

Lora Turnham and her pilot Corrine Hall also won gold in the velodrome, in the tandem three-kilometres pursuit as Britain finished the four-day track competition with 12 medals, eight of them gold.

Firth won her second gold of the Rio Games by beating defending champion Jessica-Jane Applegate to silver in the S14 200m freestyle. They were two of seven medals in the pool on Sunday.

It was a third Paralympic title for Firth, who also won S14 100m backstroke on Thursday's opening day of the Games and won gold in that event for Ireland at London 2012.

Morris' second Paralympic title, eight years after her cycling time-trial win in Beijing, was the first of four rowing medals in an hour.

The 37-year-old won the women's arms-shoulders single sculls and Tom Aggar took bronze in the corresponding men's event.

Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley next won the double sculls and the mixed coxed four team of Pamela Relph, James Fox, Daniel Brown and Grace Clough, plus cox Oliver James, were victorious, too.

Press Association

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