LONDON, England, September 2. THERE might not have been a huge ovation for any local heroes at the 2012 London Paralympics, but some ridiculously fast times were on offer as several world records had astonishing progressions during the fourth night of action. Additionally, USA's Mallory Weggemann earned some redemption with her first Paralympic gold medal after a last-minute reclassification shook her up before the Games.
The fourth night commenced with a world record as Ukraine's Yevheniy Bohodayko bested two-sport star Rudy Garcia-Tolson, 2:33.13 to 2:33.94, in the men's 200 IM SM7 event. The duo smashed Garcia-Tolson's previous mark of 2:35.92 set while winning the event at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. The win gave Bohodayko his first Paralympic gold medal after taking silver in both the 50 fly and 100 back earlier in the week. Garcia-Tolson, who also is competing in Track this week, earned his first Paralympic medal of the week after taking ninth in the men's 200-meter T42 finale in Track last night. Garcia-Tolson now has four Paralympic swimming medals in his career, including gold in this event in 2004 and 2008. Australia's Matthew Levy downed the Oceania record with a bronze-winning 2:37.18, while China's Yang Huaqiang posted an Asian record with a fourth-place 2:40.52.
(Want some insight into the classification system at the Paralympics? Click here to read Jeff Commings' breakdown of the groupings.)
Australia's Jacqueline Freney snared her third Paralympic gold medal with a sterling time in the women's 200 IM SM7. She clocked a sizzling time of 2:54.42 in the finale, downing the Games record of 2:54.61 set by Erin Popovich with her win in 2008. Mallory Weggemann's 2:48.43 in 2010 is listed as the world record. Freney already captured gold in the 100 back and 50 fly during the first two nights before completing the title trifecta tonight. In 2008, she collected three bronzes in the 50, 10 and 400 freestyle, and now she's compiled six Paralympic medals in total. Canada's Brianna Nelson placed second tonight with a 3:04.60, matching her silver-winning effort in the 50 fly. China's Huang Min posted a 3:07.51 to earn bronze, her second of the meet along with her 50 fly finish.
Iceland earned a spot atop the podium as Jon Margeir Sverrisson raced to a winning time of 1:59.62 in the men's 200 free S14 event for those with intellectual disabilities. The swim cleared the world record dictated by the International Paralympic Committee, which set a minimum standard of 2:00.10 as the division had not been part of the Paralympics in the past two Games. The entire podium cleared the standard as Australia's Daniel Fox (1:59.79) and South Korea's Cho Wonsang (1:59.93) earned silver and bronze in the event.
The partisan crowd at the London Aquatics Center certainly enjoyed the outcome of the women's 200 free S14 as Great Britain's Jessica-Jane Applegate won gold in 2:12.63, moving from fourth at the 100-meter mark. Australia's Taylor Corry took second in 2:13.18, just .55 seconds behind, remained in second the entire race. The Netherlands' Marlou van der Kulk, who had led throughout most of the race, picked up bronze with a time of 2:14.80.
Ukraine's Dmytro Zalevskyy gave the men's 100 back S11 world record a go with a scintillating time of 1:07.81. That performance cleared the European standard, but came up shy of the 1:07.74 global mark set by China's Yang Bozun with his triumphant effort at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. The win is Zalevskyy's first in international competition, having previously taken bronze in the event at the 2010 World Championships. Yang, meanwhile, checked in with a silver-winning time of 1:08.07, just off his top time. The swim gave Yang his second medal of the meet after winning the 50 free in 25.27 last night. Ukraine went 1-3 in the event with Viktor Smyrnov earning bronze in 1:08.22.
Japan's Rina Akiyama, the world-record holder with a 1:18.59 from July this summer, edged New Zealand's Mary Fisher, 1:19.50 to 1:19.62, in the women's 100 back S11 event. Meanwhile, Italy's Cecilia Camellini earned bronze in 1:19.91, with the entire podium clearing the Games record of 1:22.35 set by China's Dong Qiming back in 2004. Germany's Daniela Schulte also bettered the Games mark with a fourth-place 1:20.09. Akiyama returned to the podium for the first time since taking silver in this event in 2004 with a 1:23.63. Fisher added silver to her two other medals already won this week in the 100 free (silver) and 50 free (bronze). Camellini, meanwhile, now has four career medals, having already won the 100 free this week and taken silver in the 50 and 100 free events in 2008.
Belarus' Ihar Boki celebrated the first sub-52 second time ever in the men's 100 free S13 event with a smoking fast time of 51.91. That effort crushed the previous record of 52.55 set by Australia's Timothy Antalfy in March of this year, and the Games record of 53.37 posted by Greece's Charalampos Taiganidis with his 2008 Beijing triumph. The win is Boki's second of the week as the 18-year old added the victory to his 100 fly win. She also took silver in the 50 free this week for a medal triple this week. South Africa's Charl Bouwer won silver in 52.97, setting the African record in the process. He now has a pair of medals this week after taking gold in the 50 free ahead of Boki last night. Russia's Aleksandr Golintovskii completed the podium with a bronze-winning 53.45.
USA's Kelley Becherer ripped off the only sub-1:00 time of the finale in the women's 100 free S13 with a swift time of 59.56. The win gave Becherer a gold-medal sweep of the sprint events, having already won the 50 free last night. Becherer now has five Paralympic medals, including a gold in the 50 free in 2008 and a pair of bronzes (100, 400 free) that year as well. Canada's Valerie Grand-Maison won her second silver behind Becherer with a second-place time of 1:00.07. Grand-Maison had retired from the sport after an impressive six-medal haul in 2008, but returned to competitive swimming shortly after getting back in the water socially. USA's Rebecca Meyers gave the Americans a 1-3 finish in the sprint event with a bronze-winning 1:01.90.
Russia put forth a commanding performance in the men's 100 fly S12 finale with a top-two sweep. Roman Makarov dominated the field by more than two seconds with a quick 57.21 for the win. That swim was just off his world record of 56.90 set while representing Belarus at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Makarov now has six gold medals, and 13 overall dating back to a three-medal haul back in 2000, and has now won the 100 fly S12 in four consecutive Paralympics. Teammate Sergey Punko won silver in 59.47, while Great Britain's James Clegg pipped USA's Tucker Dupree, 1:00.00 to 1:00.15, for bronze in the finale. Punko now has two medals this week, including a gold in the 400 free on the first evening.
World-record holder Joanna Mendak of Poland had just enough to capture gold in the women's 100 fly S12 event. She nipped Russia's Darya Stukalova by just .11 seconds, 1:06.16 to 1:06.27, for the win. She finished well back of her world record of 1:03.11 from 2006 as well as the 1:03.34 she used to win the title in 2008. Great Britain's Hannah Russell earned bronze with a time of 1:08.57 in the finale.
New Zealand's Cameron Leslie obliterated his world record in the men's 150 IM SM4 with a jaw-dropping time of 2:25.98. That performance cut nearly five seconds from his previous global standard of 2:30.78 set just in April of this year. The win defended his title from 2008. Leslie not only is a world-class swimmer, he also plays wheelchair rugby competitively. Mexico's Gustavo Sanchez Martinez placed a distance second with a time of 2:39.55, while Japan's Takayuki Suzuki earned bronze with a 2:40.24 to surpass the Asian record in the event.
Mallory Weggemann, a former Swimming World Disabled Swimmer of the Year, shook off the disappointment of being reclassified from S7/SB6/SM7 to S8/SB7/SM8 just prior to the Paralympics with a Games and American record in the women's 50 free S8. She rocketed to a time of 31.13, besting the previous Games mark of 31.51 set by Norway's Cecilie Drabsch in 2004. The win is Weggemann's first of the meet, and first at a Paralympics. She blasted onto the international scene in 2010 with seven world titles that year in her previous classifications after sustaining paralysis due to epidural shots in her spine to treat shingles in 2008. Weggemann had been projected to win a similar amount of title as 2010 prior to her untimely reclassification. Australia's Maddison Elliott posted an Oceanic record of 31.44 for silver, while China's Jiang Shengnan took bronze in 31.55. Jessica Long, already a three-time winner this week, placed fifth in 31.71.
China's Du Jianping had one of the most remarkable world-record progressions of the meet thus far by cutting nearly 20 seconds from his previous global standard in the men's 150 M SM3. Du knocked off Ukraine's Dmytro Vynohradets, 2:43.72 to 2:44.85, for gold. Du's previous world mark had been the 3:00.50 he used to win the event back in 2004. Du matched this gold with his 50 breast victory on night one with Vynohradets taking bronze that evening as well. China's Li Hanhua, meanwhile, earned bronze with a 3:01.16.
The Aussies closed the show in a big way with a Games-record time on the men's 400 free relay — 34 points, this evening. Andrew Pasterfield, Matthew Levy, Blake Cochrane and Matthew Cowdrey won the race in 3:50.17, clearing the previous record of 3:51.43 set in 2008. China's Song Maodong, Wang Jiachao, Lin Furong and Wang Yinan posted an Asian record 3:51.68 to take silver. Russia's Konstantin Lisenkov, Evgeny Zimin, Denis Tarasov and Dmitry Grigorev snared bronze with a 3:52.93.