Britain’s Storey shines, records tumble on day one of Tokyo Paralympics
Tokyo: British cyclist Sarah Storey added to her glorious golden history as wheelchair rugby powerhouses Australia suffered a shock defeat on day one of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Paralympics on Wednesday. Paige Greco, an Australian cyclist, had the honour of winning the first gold of the Games, 354 days later than originally envisaged because of the Covid-19 pandemic and a day after a high-energy but poignant opening ceremony. Despite a year-long postponement, and with coronavirus fears hanging over the event, world and Paralympic records tumbled in the swimming pool and on the cycling track on a pulsating first day of competition that saw 24 gold medals awarded. Greco was in record-breaking form as she beat China’s Wang Xiaomei in the gold medal race in C1-C3 class 3,000 metre individual pursuit at the Izu Velodrome. She smashed her own world record by nearly eight seconds in the heats and lowered it by another second and a half to 3min 50.815sec in the final. “I still can’t believe it. I keep looking down and seeing (the gold medal). It’s not really sunk in yet,” said Greco. Storey moved a step closer to becoming Britain’s greatest Paralympian, shattering her own world record in the heats before powering to victory in the C5 3,000 metres individual pursuit final for her 15th Paralympic gold. The 43-year-old took the title for a fourth consecutive Games when she caught compatriot Crystal Lane-Wright inside eight laps of the 12. Storey is just one medal behind the British record held by Mike Kenny, who won 16 swimming golds from 1976 to 1988. “I never expected to go as quickly this morning, but I’m so glad I did,” said Storey. Brazilian Daniel Dias, who is competing at his last Paralympics, has the chance to become the most decorated male Paralympic swimmer of all time if he wins three more golds to eclipse Kenny. But could only take bronze in his opening event, the S5 men’s 200m freestyle, which was won by Italy’s Francesco Bocciardo in a new Paralympic record time. Dias, who has now won 25 Paralympic medals, will have several more chances to add to his 14 golds starting Thursday in the 100m freestyle. Defending gold medallists Australia suffered a setback in their bid to become the first team to top the wheelchair rugby podium at three consecutive Games, edged out 54-53 by Denmark. “I’m pretty devastated, to be honest — I had never lost a game at the Paralympics ever,” said Australia’s Chris Bond. “I don’t know what to feel. All we can do is turn around and win the next two and make the semi-final.” – AFP