LONDON, England, August 31. ANOTHER day, another assault on the world records at the 2012 Paralympics, including scintillating performances by Jessica Long and Andre Brasil.
Long provided what will likely go down as the most dominant performance in this year's Paralympic swimming competition, routing the field in the S8 400 free to win by 25 meters with a new world record time of 4:42.28. She eclipsed her own global standard of 4:44.17 from the Olympic Trials in June. Though she had the lead at the 25-meter mark, Great Britain's Heather Frederiksen had to settle for silver in 5:00.50, well ahead of the bronze-medal effort of Australia's Madison Elliott, who touched in 5:09.36.
Long increased her Paralympic gold medal tally to nine, including yesterday's win in the 100 butterfly. It marked her third consecutive 400 freestyle victory in the Paralympics, dating back to 2004. She now owns 11 total Paralympic medals.
Brasil provided an impressive performance in the men's 50 freestyle in the S10 category, featuring athletes whose disability provides the least amount of hindrance to their swimming performance. Brasil shattered his own world mark in the event, dropping it from 23.44 to 23.16. This marks Brasil's first gold of the meet, after finishing second to Benoit Huot yesterday in the 200 IM. Brasil was the most dominant male swimmer at the 2008 Paralympics, winning four golds and a silver, including a win in the 50 freestyle. Placing second in today's race was Canada's Nathan Stein, who swam a 23.58. Bronze went to Andrew Pasterfield with a 23.89.
(Want some insight into the classification system at the Paralympics? Click here to read Jeff Commings' breakdown of the groupings.)
China started off night two in somewhat similar fashion to the way the team started night one — with a gold medal. Wang Yinan powered home in the final 50 meters to win the men's S8 400 freestyle in 4:27.11, just ahead of Great Britain's Oliver Hynd, who led from 225 meters to 375 meters but settled for silver in 4:27.88. Oliver's younger brother Sam took the race out hard in the opening half but fell back for third with a 4:32.93.
China's fortunes continued in the men's S7 50 butterfly when Pan Shiyun broke countryman's Tian Rong's world record of 30.37 with a 29.49. Ukraine's Yevheniy Bohodayko placed second with a 30.19 for a European record, with China's Wang Jingang taking bronze in 30.75.
Jacqueline Freney picked up her second gold medal of these Paralympic Games with a win today in the S7 50 butterfly in a time of 35.16. She won the 100 backstroke yesterday. Freney had no competition at the finish, almost a second ahead of silver medalist Brianna Nelson of Canada, who swam a 36.03. China's Huang Min placed third with a 36.50.
Summer Mortimer added a gold medal to the silver she won yesterday in the SM10 200 individual medley with a gold today in the S10 50 freestyle. Her time of 28.10 dipped under her previous world mark of 28.17 she set at the June Canadian Paralympic Trials. Mortimer's journey to her first Paralympic gold medal included an attempt to make the Canadian Olympic team as an able-bodied swimmer in 2008. An misjudged landing on a trampoline routine in November 2008 broke the bones in Mortimer's feet, requiring screws in her ankles, but she returned to the pool a few months later, and has Paralympic gold hanging around her neck.
Swimming in lane 1, Australia's Matthew Cowdrey took gold in the men's S9 100 backstroke with a Paralympic record of 1:02.39, eclipsing the mark of 1:03.34 he set at the 2008 Paralympics. He still owns the world record of 1:01.85, set at the world championships in 2010. Great Britain's James Crisp took the silver with a 1:03.62, while China's Liu Xiaobing out-touched top seed Michael Auprince of Australia for bronze, 1:03.73 to 1:03.98.
Ellie Cole just missed Stephanie Dixon's world record of 1:09.30 in the women's S9 100 backstroke, winning the gold in 1:09.42. Well back in second was Great Britain's Stephanie Millward, who touched in 1:11.07. Elizabeth Stone of the United States won her first Paralympic medal, a bronze, with a 1:12.28, just beating famed Paralympian Natalie du Toit to the wall.
In the men's S11 100 freestyle, featuring athletes who are completely blind or nearly blind, Bradley Snyder got the American men their first gold of the meet with a winning time of 57.43. Yang Bozun of China placed second for silver with a 58.61 and South Africa's Hendri Herbst rounded out the sub-1:00 swims with a bronze-medal effort of 59.60.
Cecilia Camellini shattered her own world record in the S11 100 freestyle with a time of 1:07.29, under her previous mark of 1:08.56 from the 2010 worlds. It also obliterated Xie Qing's Paralympic record of 1:08.96 from 2008. New Zealand's Mary Fisher was the silver medal winner, touching in 1:09.83, while Li Guizhi took bronze with a 1:10.25.
After an eight-year hiatus, the S14 category returned to the swimming competition at the Paralympics today. This category features swimmers with intellectual disabilities and no physical impairments. The first S14 race of the meet featured a world record by Marc Evers of the Netherlands in the men's 100 backstroke with a 1:01.85. With this being the first S14 race at a Paralympics in eight years, the International Paralympic Committee had set the minimum time for a world record at 1:02.36. The silver medal went to Great Britain's Aaron Moores with a 1:04.44, and Hong Kong's Kai Lun Au won the bronze in 1:04.53.
In the women's S14 100 backstroke, Bethany Firth pulled away from a tightly bunched field to win in 1:08.93, ahead of Australia's Taylor Corry's 1:09.46 and Holland's Marlou van der Kulk's 1:09.50.
Timothy Antalfy of Australia had the lead at 50 meters in the final of the men's S13 100 butterfly, but a misjudged turn may have cost him the race. Belarus' Ihar Boki ran down Antalfy over the final 15 meters, winning gold with a Paralympic meet record time of 55.50, shattering the previous mark of 58.89 set by Boki's countryman Dzmitry Salei in 2008. Roman Dubovoy also passed Antalfy in the final stroke to win silver in 56.37. Antalfy settled for bronze with a 56.48. Fourth and fifth place were also under the previous Paralympic record. Danylo Chufarov of Ukraine placed fourth with a 58.05, and Salei took fifth in 58.47 after winning in 2008.
Nataliia Prologaieva won gold in the women's SM5 200 individual medley, barely dipping under the world and Paralympic record of 3:13.58 set by France's Beatrice Hess in 2000 with a 3:13.43. This was her second gold and second world record of the meet, taking the 50 freestyle yesterday in world record time. Placing second in today's 200 IM was Norway's Sarah Rung with a 3:15.89. Spain's Teresa Perales won bronze with a 3:28.58.
The Ukranians collected the final gold of the session, with Eskender Mustafaiev taking the medal in 38.26. Yuji Hanada's world and Paralympic records of 37.54 from Athens 2004 survived the assault. France's David Smetanine tried to close in the final meters, but ran out of room, taking silver in 38.75. Jan Povysil of the Czech Republic won bronze in 39.47.