Paralympic Games Day 2 Women: USA’s Gia Pergolini, Anastasia Pagonis Break World Records; British Duo, Too

Gia Pergolini.

The 2020 Paralympic Games continued in Tokyo with Day 2 of the swimming competition.

Several world records were set in the session, including two by the United States.

Gia Pergolini of the U.S. set a world record to win gold in the 100 backstroke S13 class. She touched the wall in 1:04.64 breaking her own world record set in prelims (1:05.05). Italy’s Carlotta Gilli took the silver (1:06.10) and Australia’s Katja Dedekind took the bronze (1:06.49).

“It’s surreal,” Pergolini said. “I’ve been thinking about this moment for the past five years. This past year, I was thinking about it day and night. There are so many emotions finally seeing all my hard work pay off. Representing my country and getting them a gold medal is just crazy.”

The U.S. wasn’t finished. Anastasia Pagonis of the U.S. broke the 400 freestyle S11 class world record to claim gold in 4:54.49. Liesette Bruinsma of the Netherlands won silver in 5:05.34, followed by China’s Chi Liwen, who took the bronze in 5:07.56.

“If you told me this a few years ago, I wouldn’t even think I’d be alive so just being here and being able to have this experience and this opportunity — unbelievable,” Pagonis said. “I love being able to bond with my teammates and have this experience with all of them. I think supporting and cheering on my teammates is super important.”

Great Britain’s Tully Kearney won her second medal of the games, this time claiming gold. She won the 100 freestyle S5 class gold medal in 1:14.39 to break the world record. China’s Zhang Li took the silver in 1:18.80, while Italy’s Monica Boggioni earned the bronze in 1:22.43.

“I don’t think I have words to describe that, I’m in shock really. I didn’t expect to be able to go that quick,” Kearney said after her Paralympic victory. “I was quite frustrated with myself with how I swam the race yesterday. I was aiming for the world record in the 200m, but unfortunately through the injuries, I just don’t have the fitness to hold on and obviously I just missed the gold. Today, I was absolutely determined that no-one was going to beat me, that I was going to go out there – I felt rubbish but I decided I was going to leave it all in the pool and see what I could do, and it worked.”

Maisie Summers-Newton gave Great Britain its second gold medal on the night, and won in world record fashion. She claimed gold in the 200 IM SM6 class, breaking the world record in 2:56.68. Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko took the silver in 2:58.04 and Germany’s Verena Schott won the bronze in 2:59.09, just ahead of Elizabeth Marks of the U.S., who finished fourth in 3:02.43.

“I’m absolutely speechless. Paralympic gold is what I’ve dreamt of since watching Ellie in London, so to do it now, it definitely hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s incredible, I’m so happy,” said Summers-Newton. “I knew how badly I wanted it, so tonight I just thought, ‘try your absolute best, put everything you’ve got into it’. On the breaststroke leg, I knew that was my strongest leg and where I could pick it up a little bit. When I saw how quick they were, I knew I just had to go for it. On that last length, I thought, ‘just put your head down and go!’ It obviously worked, it’s incredible, I can’t believe it.”

The 100 breaststroke S89 was a big event for the Netherlands as Chantalle Zijderveld won gold in a world record 1:10.99. She went 1-2 with teammate Lisa Kruger (1:13.91). Australia’s Keira Stephens won the bronze in 1:17.59.

China also set a world record in the mixed 4×50 relay, winning in 2:15.49. Italy took the silver in 2:21.45 and Brazil won the bronze in 2:24.82. China’s swimmers were Zhang Li, Zheng Tao, Yuan Weiyi and Lu Dong.

Complete meet coverage

In the 100 breaststroke SB8 class, Ireland’s Ellen Keane won gold in 1:19.93. New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe took the silver in 1:20.32 and Russian Paralympic Committee’s Adelina Razetdinova took the bronze in 1:24.77.