PARALYMPIC GAMES: Erin Popovich Goes Three for Three Thru Day Three; US Raises Medal Tally to 12

ATHENS, Greece, September 22. YOU have seen it before. In the middle of a race a swimmer’s goggles come down over their face. Disaster, if the swimmer lets it feel that way. For the U.S. team here, mishaps don’t seem to hurt, at least if you are Erin Popovich, reports Tara Dugan, the USOC press officer for Swimming.

Despite losing her goggles, Popovich (Butte, Mont.) finished in 1:38.66 in the SB7 100-meter breaststroke with yet another gold medal, her third in the first three days of competition. The first lens popped off at the 15-meter mark and the next one slipped off on the turn. The 19-year-old Popovich used her quick arm stroke to inch past Iceland’s Kristin Ros Hakonardottir, finishing 20-tenths of a second ahead.

Nabbing her first Paralympic medal, Cheryl Angelelli (Fraser, Mich.) didn’t have time to even think about getting nervous before her race. After slipping in her room the night before competition, the American team’s doctors, trainers and coaches worked around the clock to get Angelelli feeling good for the race today. In the S4 200 freestyle, she swam pain free, securing a time of 3:51.41 worthy of a bronze medal.

To everyone who prepared her for the win, Angelelli said, “this is just as much their medal as it is mine.”

Three-time Paralympian Curtis Lovejoy (Atlanta, Ga.) earned the first medal on the night with a silver in the S2 100 freestyle. A former Paralympic fencer, Lovejoy finished in 2:27.46.

“It wasn’t my best time, but I’m very happy to medal,” said Lovejoy, a Baptist preacher in Atlanta. “We have good momentum right now and we have to keep it going.”

The veterans weren’t the only athletes on the team to come up big. Rookies Mikhaila Rutherford (Alameda, Calif.) and Beth Riggle (Sylvania, Ohio) entered the last race of the night ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively and that was how they finished. In the SB8 100 breaststroke, Rutherford snagged silver with a time of 1:27.68 while Riggle’s final push moved her from fifth position to gain bronze in 1:29.66.

“I was focused and rooting for Beth all the way,” Rutherford said. “To share the podium with a teammate is great.”

Popovich has two events left to add to her already spectacular medal tally. On Saturday September 25, she’ll compete in the 50m butterfly, and on Sunday September 26, she’ll race in the 50m freestyle.

The U.S. team has won five gold, two silver and five bronze medals in only three days of competition. Swimming events continue through September 27.

Complete results for Tuesday finals listed below.

Men’s S1 100 freestyle
1. Izhak Mamistvalov (ISR) – 2.35.24 PR
2. Christos Tamppaxis (GRE) – 2.56.64
3. Jiri Kaderavek (CZE) – 3.40.46
5. Grover Evans (Little Rock, Ark.) – 3.57.78

Men’s S2 100 freestyle
1. Jim Anderson (GBR) – 2.21.49
2. Curtis Lovejoy (Atlanta, Ga.) – 2.27.46
3. Philippe Revillon (FRA) – 2.29.07

Men’s S10 100 freestyle
1. Benoit Huot (CAN) – 53.73
2. David Levecq (ESP) – 56.32
3. Mike van der Zanden (NED) – 56.47
4. Justin Zook (Plymouth, Minn.) – 56.50

Women’s S10 100 freestyle
1. Anne Polinario (CAN) – 1:03.65
2. Katarzyna Pawlik (POL) – 1:04.46
3. Sarah Baily (GBR) -1:05.14
5. Ashley Owens (Stockbridge, Ga.) – 1:06.27

Women’s S4 200 freestyle
1. Mayumi Narita (JPN) – 3.02.00 WR/PR
2. Karen Breumsoe (DEN) – 3.50.92
3. Cheryl Angelelli (Fraser, Mich.) – 3.51.41
4. Aimee Bruder (Birmingham, Ala.) – 3.55.87

Men’s SB7 100 breaststroke
1. Sascha Kindred (GBR) – 1.23.28 PR
2. Gong Baoren (CHN) – 1:24.20
3. Tomotaro Nakamura (JPN) – 1:25.72
5. Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Riverside, Calif.) – 1:26.68

Women’s SB7 100 breaststroke
1. Erin Popovich (Butte, Mont.) – 1.38.66
2. Kristin Ros Hakonardottir (ISL) – 1.38.84
3. Huang Min (CHN) – 1.39.51

Men’s SB8 100 breaststroke
1. Andriy Lalyna (UKR) – 1.10.40 WR/PR
2. James Crisp (GBR) – 1:19.47
3. Li Ke Qiang (CHN) – 1:19.59
4. Jarrett Perry (Wichita, Kan.) – 1:20.09

Women’s SB8 100 breaststroke
1. Sisse Grynet Egeborg (DEN) – 1:23.85
2. Mikhaila Rutherford (Alameda, Calif.) – 1:27.68
3. Beth Riggle (Sylvania, Ohio) – 1:29.66

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