LONDON, England, September 6. JACQUELINE Freney of Australia, after a day off yesterday, kept on schedule to win a Phelpsian eight gold medals at the 2012 London Paralympics. This evening, Freney raced to her seventh gold medal of the meet. Meanwhile, Matthew Cowdrey, Natalie Du Toit and Jessica Long continued to pile up historic career medals tallies.
China remained in the team medal lead with 45, including 18 golds. Great Britain stands second with 36 medals, but just seven golds. Russia is third with 33 medals, including 10 golds. Australia and the U.S. are tied with 32 medals each as Australia owns 14 golds and the U.S. has 12. Ukraine completed the 30-plus teams with 31 medals, 12 of the golden variety.
Freney holds the individual medal lead with her seven medals, while Long also has seven medals with five wins and a pair of runner-up efforts. Cowdrey has six medals total with four wins and two silvers, while Belarus' Ihar Boki and Brazil's Andre Brasil each have five medals.
(Want some insight into the classification system at the Paralympics? Click here to read Jeff Commings' breakdown of the groupings.)
Australia's Matthew Cowdrey pushed his overall career Paralympic medal tally to an astounding 20 with his victorious effort of 2:15.95 in the men's 200 IM SM9. The win, Cowdrey's sixth medal of the meet with four triumphs (100 back, 50 free, 200 IM, 400 free relay) and two silvers (100 fly, 100 breast), also gave Cowdrey 12 career golds. The 200 IM victory is his third straight as well, as he won the event in 2004 and 2008. Ukraine's Andriy Kalyna placed second in 2:16.38 with a European-record time for his second medal of the meet. He won the 100 breast five days ago. Italy's Federico Morlacchi finished third in 2:20.28, his third bronze of the meet.
Another Paralympic legend, Natalie Du Toit of South Africa, also piled on to her already impressive medal tally. Du Toit raced to victory in the women's 200 IM SM9 with a 2:34.22, giving her a third gold medal this week after winning the 100 fly and 400 free already. For her career, Du Toit now has won 14 Paralympic medals, with 13 of them being triumphs spanning back to six medals in 2004. Du Toit is already on record as retiring after this meet, and she is going out in style. Great Britain produced the second, third and fourth-fastest finishers. Stephanie Millward (2:36.21) and Louise Watkin (2:37.79) made their way to the podium, while Claire Cashmore (2:38.08) just missed a medal. Millward now has four medals this week, three silvers and a bronze, while Watkin has earned a trio of medals with a silver and two bronzes.
Great Britain's Josef Craig claimed a huge ovation from the London Aquatics Center with his second world record of the day in the men's 400 free S7 event. After initially dispatching the global standard of 4:47.16 set by compatriot Jonathan Fox in July of last summer with a 4:45.79 in prelims, Craig crushed the field by nearly four seconds as the 15-year-old dropped a stunning time of 4:42.81 for the win. The win is Craig's first medal in his career. China's Pan Shiyun snared silver with an Asian record of 4:46.22, also under the former world record heading into the meet. The runner-up finish provided Pan with his fourth medal of the meet, two golds and two silvers. Russia's Andrey Gladkov, also just 15 years old, raced to a bronze in 4:46.76, just half-a-second off Pan's silver-winning performance.
After a rare day off yesterday, Australia's Jacqueline Freney had plenty of stamina to smash the Games record in the women's 400 free S7 during prelims. Freney, who already had six gold medals this week heading into today, clocked a 5:01.04 to lead qualifying. That swim demolished the Games record of 5:17.41 set by Erin Popovich back in 2008. Freney then put together a blistering world record of 4:59.02 to capture her amazing seventh gold medal of the meet. That swim cut nearly a second off her global standard of 4:59.95 set in December of last year, and finished nearly 20 seconds ahead of the field. Freney, just 20, came into the meet with a trio of bronzes in 2008. This year, she's become the face of Paralympic swimming internationally with victories in the 100 back, 50 fly, 200 IM, 100 free, 50 free and 400 free as well as being part of the 400 free relay 34 points triumph three nights ago.
USA's Cortney Jordan edged Great Britain's Susannah Rodgers, 5:18.55 to 5:18.93, for silver with Rodgers' time standing as a new European mark. Rodgers, has been in the shadow of Freney most of the week, still managed to win her fourth medal of the meet with three silvers and a bronze. Rodgers, meanwhile, clinched her third bronze medal of the week.
Japan's Yasuhiro Tanaka took home the men's 100 breast SB14 gold medal with a time of 1:06.69, which is listed as a world record. Heading into this meet, with the S14/SB14/SM14 intellectual disability classifications making their return after a two-Games hiatus, organizers established world record standards prior to the meet. Russia's Artem Pavlenko placed second with a time of 1:08.38, while The Netherlands' Marc Evers touched third with a 1:08.43.
Spain's Michelle Alonso Morales cleared the minimum standard world record in the women's 100 breast SB14 with a victorious time of 1:16.85. That swim cleared the field by nearly four seconds. The Netherlands' Magda Toeters earned silver with a time of 1:20.64, while Hong Kong's Shu Hang Leung captured bronze with a 1:21.21.
Mexico's Juan Reyes raced to gold in the men's 50 back S4 event with a triumphant effort of 45.75, the first win of the meet for the 30 year old. Russia's Aleksei Lyzhikhin snared silver with a second-place time of 46.73, while Mexico's Gustavo Sanchez Martinez rounded out the podium with a bronze-winning time of 47.17. Sanchez Martinez earned his second medal of the meet after winning the 100 free last night.
The Netherlands' Lisette Teunissen, the world record holder with a 48.49 from April 2011, scared the Games standard in the women's 50 back S4 with a winning time of 51.51. That performance just missed the 1996 Games standard of 51.48 set by Kay Espenhayn of Germany in Atlanta. Brazil's Edenia Garcia placed second with a time of 53.85, while China's Bai Juan finished third with a 54.33.
China's Wang Yinan blasted the world record in the men's 100 free S8 with a time of 56.58. That performance cut more than a second off Peter Leek's global mark of 57.62 set in August 2010, and also smoked the Games record of 58.84 set by China's Wang Xiaofu in 2008. The victory gave Wang his fourth medal of the meet with wins in the 400 free and 100 free, a silver in the 400 free relay 34 points and bronze in the 50 free. Russia's Denis Tarasov cleared compatriot Konstantin Lisenkov, 57.52 to 58.33, for silver to also clear the former world record. Tarasov collected his fourth medal of the week as well, a gold in the 50 free, silvers in the 100 free and 100 back and bronze in the relay. Lisenkov earned his third medal with gold in the 100 back and bronze in the relay and 100 free tonight.
While Freney's seven-for-seven effort is far-and-away the top outing thus far this week, USA's Jessica Long isn't far behind with her seventh medal of the meet as she powered to a world record in the women's 100 free S8. After downing her world record of 1:06.50 from August 2011 and Games record of 1:06.81 from 2008 with a 1:06.06 in prelims, Long surged to victory with a world-record time of 1:05.63 in the finale. That delivered her a fifth gold medal this week to go with a pair of silvers. Long now has 16 career Paralympic medals with 12 being golden. Great Britain's Heather Frederiksen checked in with a silver-winning time of 1:08.07 in what proved to be a battle among three swimmers for the final two spots. Australia's Maddison Elliott, 13, clipped USA's Mallory Weggemann, 1:08.37 to 1:08.51, for the final spot on the podium.
Weggemann, who suffered a last-minute reclassification, managed to win gold in the 50 free earlier in the week, but has had a tough go of it compared to her potential in her previous classification. In 2010, Weggemann broke onto the Paralympic scene with a stunning seven world titles in the S7/SB6/SM7 classification. Competing in a tougher division this week with nearly no preparation for the reclassification has been difficult for the former Swimming World Disabled Swimmer of the Year.
Ukraine's Hennadii Boiko smashed the world record in the men's 50 back S1 with a blazing time of 1:04.29. That performance crushed the previous record of 1:20.01 set by Greece's Christos Tampaxis in June 2010. Incidentally, it also downed Tampaxis' Games mark of 1:22.20 from 2004. Tampaxis, meanwhile, claimed silver with a 1:20.76, while Ukraine's Oleksandr Golovko earned bronze with a 1:32.44.
Brazil's Daniel Dias blitzed the men's 50 back S5 world record with a 34.99. That swim cleared the 35.04 set by He Junquan in 2008, and delivered Dias his fourth gold medal of the meet. He now has won the 50 free, 200 free, 100 breast and 50 back. He, meanwhile, placed second with a 36.41 for his first medal of the meet. Hungary's Zsolt Vereczkei completed the podium with a bronze-winning time of 38.92.
Brazil went 1-2 in the men's 100 free S10 as Andre Brasil rattled his world record in the event with a Games-standard time of 51.07. That swim lowered his Games mark of 51.38 from 2008, but came up shy of his global standard of 50.87 from August 2010. His teammate Phelipe Rodrigues earned second with a 52.42, while Australia's Andrew Pasterfield lowered the Oceania record with a 52.77 for bronze. Canada's Benoit Huot, vying for his 20th career Paralympic medal, just missed with a fourth-place 53.32. The win gave Brasil his fifth medal of the meet, three wins and a pair of silvers.
New Zealand's Sophie Pascoe twice lowered the Games record in the women's 100 free S10. In prelims, she charted a time of 1:01.17 to down the 1:01.57 set by Ashley Owens back in 2008. Pascoe then edged France's Elodie Lorandi, 1:00.89 to 1:01.09, in the finale as the pair gave Pascoe's 1:00.37 world record from April of this year a go. Pascow now has five medals this week, a trio of wins in the 200 IM, 100 fly and 100 free as well as a pair of silvers. Lorandi's European record delivered her a fourth medal this week (one gold, one silver and two bronzes). Canada's Summer Mortimer raced to bronze in 1:01.58, her fourth medal of the week with two wins, a silver and a bronze.
Ukraine's Viktor Smyrnov turned on the afterburners to post a comeback upset victory over defending champion Enhamed Enhamed of Spain, 1:03.32 to 1:03.93, in the men's 100 fly S11. Japan's Keiichi Kimura placed third in an Asian record of 1:04.70, while Navy Lt. Brad Snyder wound up fourth for the U.S. in 1:05.42.