'Hurricane Hannah', 'Paralympics Bolt' win more gold as pandemic Games lauded

Hannah Cockroft and Nick Mayhugh enjoyed yet more golden success on the athletics track as the successful staging of the Games was lauded as “remarkable” on Saturday’s penultimate day of Paralympics action in Tokyo.

Britain’s Cockroft won her seventh Paralympics gold while American Mayhugh said he wanted to be the “Usain Bolt of the Paralympics” after claiming his third Tokyo gold.

“Hurricane Hannah” clocked 1min 48.99sec in the T34 800m, obliterating her own Paralympic Games record set in Rio by almost 12 seconds. 

“I don’t think it will ever sink in,” Cockroft said of winning her second Tokyo gold to go with her three golds won at Rio 2016 and two from London 2012.

“Not many athletes get the privilege of doing this for 10 years or get to stand on the podium that many times.”

Mayhugh smashed his own world record, set only the day before, to take gold in the men’s T37 200m in 21.91sec.

“I know I’ll never be able to run 9.5 for the 100m, but I want to be the Usain Bolt of the Paralympics,” said the former footballer, who also took gold in the 100m and Friday’s night’s 4x100m universal relay. He won silver in the 400m.

“You set your own limits. You believe in yourself and you set your own barrier and surpass it. Usain Bolt did exactly that with me. He was my greatest inspiration so thank you to him.”

– ‘Out of this world’ –

International Paralympic Committee spokesperson Craig Spence hailed “an amazing team effort” that had enabled the Games to take place in a pandemic.

“It’s remarkable. There were doubts in the past two years when I thought these Games weren’t going to happen,” Spence told reporters.

“We took inspiration from our athletes. They seem to make the impossible possible. The sporting performances have been out of this world.”

Deng Peicheng upset Australian world record holder James Turner to win the men’s T36 100m gold in a new Paralympic record of 11.85sec, sparking wild celebrations from the ecstatic Chinese athlete.

But Peter Genyn of Belgium claimed his wheelchair had been sabotaged and had to be patched up with duct tape before he won the T51 100m late on Friday night.

“We had just arrived 45 minutes before the warm-up and we had three flat tyres and a broken compensator,” he said. “The day before we had a flat front tyre, and it looked like a knife but we didn’t want to believe it.”

The first tennis gold of a busy final day of action went to Australia’s Dylan Alcott who defended his Rio title in the men’s quad singles final 7-6 (7/2), 6-1 against Sam Schroder of the Netherlands.

Later, home favourite and Japan wheelchair tennis legend Shingo Kunieda will round off proceedings at the Ariake Tennis Park in the men’s singles final against Tom Egberink of the Netherlands.

There was more success for Australia and Britain as the sprint canoeing programme concluded at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Australia’s Curtis McGrath, who lost his legs when he trod on an explosive device while serving in Afghanistan, won his second gold in the men’s VL3 final. 

Britain’s Charlotte Henshaw and Laura Sugar both struck kayak gold, in the women’s KL2 and KL3 respectively.

Cheah Liek Hou of Malaysia had the honour of winning the first Paralympics badminton gold in history when he beat Indonesia’s Dheva Anrimusthi 21-17, 21-15 in the men’s Singles SU5 final at the Yoyogi National Stadium.

The racquet sport is making its Paralympics Games debut in Tokyo, 29 years after being admitted to the Olympics.

South American football superpowers Brazil and Argentina were clashing in the five-a-side final, one of 49 golds up for grabs Saturday.

A record 84 countries have won medals at the Tokyo Paralympics and the final 15 golds will be awarded on Sunday before the closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium brings the curtain down on the Games.

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