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2012 London Paralympics: Jacqueline Freney, Ihar Boki Put Stamp on Games Thus Far; Natalie Du Toit Wins 12th Career Gold -- September 4, 2012

LONDON, England, September 4. THE record books, both in terms of world-record times and medals won, will need a serious revision after the London edition of the Paralympic Games. Swimmers have been torching record books left and right, while Australia's Jacqueline Freney and Belarus' Ihar Boki have planted their names among the top Paralympians of all time with their incredible performances thus far. In her final Paralympics, Natalie Du Toit earned her 12th career gold medal as well.

China still holds the overall medal tally lead with 35, while Australia made a push with 26 total medals so far. The U.S. and Great Britain each have 25 medals. China (14) and Australia (11) are the only teams to have broken into double digits for gold medals.

Freney leads all swimmers with her astounding six gold medals thus far this meet, while Boki is tied with Jessica Long for second with five medals each. Boki has won four titles, while Long has three titles along with a pair of silvers.


(Want some insight into the classification system at the Paralympics? Click here to read Jeff Commings' breakdown of the groupings.)

Defending champion Konstantin Lisenkov of Russia rocketed to a Games record time of 1:05.43 in the men's 100 back S8 event to begin the evening. That time lowered his previous mark of 1:06.33 to win in 2008, but missed his global standard of 1:04.67 from August 2010. The win gave Lisenkov his second medal of the week after a bronze in the 400 free relay 34 points two nights ago. Lisenkov now has five Paralympic career medals, including a trio from 2008 where he won a medal of each color. Russia went 1-2 in the event as Denis Tarasov raced to silver with a 1:06.93, earning his third medal of the meet. He already won the 50 free last night and helped Lisenkov to the bronze medal in the relay. Great Britain's Oliver Hynd rounded out the podium with a 1:08.35 for bronze.

Great Britain's Heather Frederiksen blew the roof off the London Aquatics Center with her victory in the women's 100 back S8 event. Frederiksen put a charge into her Games-record time of 1:16.74 she used to win in 2008, but wound up still defending her title with a sterling 1:17.00. Frederiksen now has a pair of medals this week, including a silver in the 400 free, and pushed her career tally to six after a four-medal haul in 2008.

USA's Jessica Long continued to add to her illustrious resume. This evening, she posted a silver-winning 1:18.67 behind Frederiksen. So far this week, Long has won five medals with three golds and two silvers. In her career, she now has 14 career medals spanning back to a three-gold performance in 2004. Russia's Olesya Vladykina took bronze this evening in 1:20.20 for her second medal of the meet, including a gold in the 100 breast.

The first world record of the evening fell in the men's 50 free S6 finale as China's Xu Qing cut more than a second from his world and Games record time of 29.78 from 2008. Tonight, Xu rocketed to a splendid time of 28.57 to give Xu a second gold medal this week. He already captured the men's 200 IM SM6 title last night. Cuba's Lorenzo Perez Escalona finished second in the splash-and-dash with a 30.04, while Chian's Zheng Tao earned bronze in 30.06. Zheng now has three medals this week, adding his bronze from tonight to his gold in the 100 back and bronze in the 200 IM.

The Netherlands' Mirjam de Koning-Peper twice lowered the Games record in the women's 50 free S6 today, with her finale swim matching her world record in the splash-and-dash. De Koning-Peper first clocked a 35.05 in prelims to better her Games record of 35.60 from 2008. She returned in the finale with a scorching-fast time of 34.77. That time matched her global standard posted in Berlin in June of this summer. The 43-year-old now has two medals this week, and six overall with a trio of golds. USA's Victoria Arlen downed the American standard in the event with a 35.32, giving her a third silver medal this week. She already finished runner-up in the 400 free and 400 free relay 34 points earlier in the meet. Great Britain's Ellie Simmonds, who has quickly become the local face of the Paralympics in London with a pair of world-record gold medals in the 400 free and 200 IM earned bronze in 36.11.

Australia's Brenden Hall smashed four seconds off his world record in the men's 400 free S9 event. Hall posted a stunning time of 4:10.88 in the middle distance event, crushing his global mark of 4:14.67 set in March of this year. Incidentally, Hall also demolished the Games record of 4:17.02 set by Spain's Jesus Collado in 2008. Hall now has won a pair of golds this week, adding his victory tonight to his 400 free relay performance. In an exciting race for silver, Hungary's Tamas Sors bested Italy's Federico Morlacchi, 4:17.95 to 4:18.55, seven seconds behind Hall's jaw-dropping effort. Sors previously won the 100 fly on night one, while Morlacchi now has a pair of bronze medals.

Paralympic legend Natalie Du Toit of South Africa dominated the women's 400 free S9 event by nearly 10 seconds with a triumphant time of 4:30.18. The win gave Du Toit her second gold medal of the meet, adding to her remarkable resume with 13 total career medals, 12 by way of gold medals. Du Toit is on record saying that this meet will be her last, as the trailblazer will call it a career. In 2008, she became the first amputee to qualify for an Olympic Games, having swum in the 10K open water event in Beijing. Great Britain's Stephanie Millward clocked a European record time of 4:40.01 for silver, while Australia's Ellie Cole took down the Oceania record with a bronze-winning 4:42.87. Millward now has three medals this week (two silvers, one bronze), while Cole also has three medals with two golds and a bronze.

USA's Justin Zook clipped Brazil's Andre Brasil at the wall of the men's 100 back S10 as both swimmers cleared Brasil's world record of 1:00.55 from August 2010. Zook captured the gold medal with a 1:00.01 to 1:00.11 triumph over Brasil in a phenomenal race. Zook, who set the Games record in prelims with a 1:01.11, nearly became the first to break the 1:00 barrier in the division. Zook now has four Paralympic career medals, and threepeated in this event after capturing the 2004 and 2008 titles. Brasil, meanwhile, earned his fourth medal of the week. He already claimed a pair of golds earlier in the week, and a silver. Canada's Benoit Huot also surpassed the previous Games record with a sterling time of 1:00.73. Huot now has a massive career medal haul of 18 after winning a pair of medals (gold, bronze) this week.

The world records kept falling as Canada's Summer Mortimer raced to another Paralympic gold medal with a blazing fast world record of 1:05.90 in the women's 100 back S10. That performance not only cleared the Games record of 1:07.77 set by Sophie Pascoe in prelims, but cleared Mortimer's global standard of 1:06.47 set in August 2010. Mortimer pushed her medal tally to three this week with a pair of golds and a silver. Pascoe, who downed the Games record of 1:10.57 in prelims, cruised to an Oceania record of 1:06.69 for silver. Pascoe now has four medals this week with two golds and two silver, and also has eight career Paralympic medals. South Africa's Shireen Sapiro, the previous Games-record holder, clocked an African standard of 1:09.02 for bronze.

Brazil's Daniel Dias started off the men's 100 breast SB4 right with a strong world-record time of 1:35.92 in prelims. That performance surpassed the world and Games mark of 1:36.61 set by Spain's Ricardo Ten in Beijing. Dias then cut more than three seconds from his preliminary time with a stunning mark of 1:32.27. Dias now has a title trifecta this week, having won the 50 free, 200 free and 100 breast so far. Colombia's Moises Fuentes Garcia raced to silver in 1:36.92, nearly under the former world record, while Ten moved from winning 2008 to bronze this year with a 1:37.23.

The women's 100 breast SB4 world record also received a large progression. Ukraine's Nataliia Prologaieva dominated the preliminary heats with a 1:44.90, cutting more than two seconds from the previous mark of 1:46.98 set by Norway's Sarah Louise Rung in July in Oslo. Incidentally, Prologaieva also destroyed the Games record of 1:54.51 set by Beatrice Hess back in 2000. Prologaieva then put together the first sub 1:44 in the division's history with a sterling 1:43.99 to win the gold medal. Prologaieva snared her third gold medal of the meet with wins in the 50 free, 200 IM and 100 breast. Former world-record holder Rung finished second in 1:45.68, more than a second under her lifetime best giving her a third medal this week. She won the 200 free, and earned runner-up statues in the 100 breast and 200 IM. Spain's Teresa Perales claimed bronze in the event this evening with a 1:56.17.

Ukraine's Maksym Veraksa, the world and Games-record holder in the men's 100 free S12, edged Russia's Aleksandr Nevolin-Svetov in one of the closest races of the meet. Veraksa downed Nevolin-Svetov in the event, 51.40 to 51.70, as both swimmers cleared Veraksa's Games-record time of 51.93 from 2008. Veraksa's world record of 50.91 from October 2009 withstood the attempt. Veraksa added his gold in this event with a 2:12.42 triumph in the 200 IM last night. Nevolin-Svetov claimed his second silver behind Veraksa, while USA's Tucker Dupree set an American record with a 54.41 to earn bronze.

Russia's Oxana Savchenko became the first swimmer under 59 seconds in the women's 100 free S12 with a blazing time of 58.41. That effort bettered her previous world record of 59.47 set at the 2008 Beijing Games. With the triumph, Savchenko collected her third gold of the meet having won the 400 free, 200 IM and now the 100 free thus far. Azerbaijan's Natali Pronina clipped Russia's Darya Stukalova, 1:00.00 to 1:00.23, for silver in what proved to be a close contest for second. Pronina earned her second silver of the meet, while Stukalova now has three medals with a silver and two bronzes.

USA's Lantz Lamback tracked down the men's 50 free S7 Games record with a sizzling time of 27.84. That effort cleared the previous Games record of 27.95 set by Great Britain's David Roberts in 2008, but fell just a bit off Roberts' blazing-fast world record of 27.67 from April 2008. Lamback added gold to his bronze from the 100 free last night, and how now won eight career medals dating back to a pair of bronzes in 2004. China's Pan Shiyun earned silver with an Asian record time of 28.09. That is Pan's third medal this week, having already captured gold in the 50 fly and 100 free. Great Britain's Matthew Walker clinched bronze with a 28.47, while Australia's Matthew Levy lowered the Oceania record with a fourth-place 28.58.

The unstoppable Jacqueline Freney of Australia scored her meet-high sixth gold medal with a Games-record time of 32.63 to win the women's 50 free S7. The Games standard fell three times today. Cortney Jordan of the U.S. owned the mark with a 33.84 from 2008. Ukraine's Ani Palian then lowered that effort with a 33.63 in prelims, before Freney went over the top in her heat with a 32.92. Freney then put together the strong 32.63 for her sixth gold this week and ninth medal in her career. Jordan won silver in 33.18, her seventh career medal, while Palian posted a European record time of 33.30 to claim bronze.

Belarus' Ihar Boki completed the sixth night of swimming with an astonishing world record in the men's 400 free S13. After clearing his own global mark of 4:06.91 from August 2010 with a scorching 4:02.83 in prelims, Boki became the first man in his division to break the 4:00 barrier with a stunning 3:58.78 to win the finale. Boki, 18, has taken his first Paralympics by storm with five medals thus far. He's won four golds with victories in the 100 fly, 100 free, 100 back and 400 free, and earned silver in the 50 free. He, along with Freney, are the early leaders for top swimmer awards at the end of the meet. Ukraine's Danylo Chufarov (4:05.85) and Russia's Aleksandr Golintovskii (4:11.13) placed second and third in the finale.


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Victory ceremony of the Women's 400m Freestyle S9 Natalie Du Toit (RSA) with her gold during the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre.
Courtesy of: Paul Cunningham-US PRESSWIRE


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