Paralympic Games (Day 8 Women): Aurelie Rivard Breaks World Record, Karolina Peledritou Too; Another Medal for Jessica Long

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Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee

Canada’s Aurélie Rivard added to her sensational Paralympic Games on Wednesday thanks to a successful defense of her women’s 400-meter freestyle S10 Paralympic title in world record time at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

The 25-year-old from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., didn’t just lower her own previous world standard in the longer freestyle distance. She crushed it it.

Rivard swam the four lengths of the pool in a blazing-fast four minutes, 24.08 seconds, more than five seconds under the previous mark of 4:29.27 she had set at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Cairns, Australia, and her previous Paralympic record of 4:29.96 from Rio 2016.

The three-time Paralympian now has nine career medals at the Games (5-2-2), including four podium finishes in as many events in the Japanese capital, two gold and a pair of bronze.

Her triumph in the 400 free marked her second Paralympic world record performance in Tokyo. On Saturday, she also smashed her previous mark in the 100 free by over one second to capture her second straight Paralympic gold medal in that event.

“My race went great. I really wanted to focus on the technical aspects, like I did in the 100 free,” Rivard said. “When I noticed I was ahead of the other girls, I just focused on the black line at the bottom of the pool and on finishing the race as fast as I could and see if I could lower the world record.

Aurelie Rivard wins gold in the women's 100m S10 swimming at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan-08/28/2021-Photo Scott Grant

Aurelie Rivard. Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee

“I’m really happy to have lowered it and to have won the gold medal.”

After settling for silver behind Poland’s Oliwia Jablonska in the 400 free at the 2019 world championships in London, Rivard knew she had to bring her A game in order to prevail in Tokyo, and she delivered.
 
She was first at every turn, leading by almost one second at the 100-metre mark before increasing her advantage to 2.61 seconds at the midway point and 3.62 seconds after three lengths.

Day 7 recap

In the end, Bianka Pap of Hungary was left 5.75 seconds behind despite a superb 4:29.83 effort that flirted with Rivard’s old world record. Jablonska took bronze in 4:33.20.

“Two years ago I lost this race for the first time in six years and I hated the feeling. I wasn’t ready for that race and I hated the feeling of losing an event I have been winning for so long,” Rivard said. “I made a promise to myself that it would never happen again. For the past two years, 95 per cent of my work has gone into that race.
 
“I work really hard every single day to try and maintain the pace, try to lower that time as much as possible. I have been working on that for the last two years, making sure I was better than everybody else in the field.”

As a team, Canada has six Paralympic swimming medals with two days left in the meet, two of each color.

There were plenty of other fast races during the women’s session.

Cyprus’ Karolina Peledritou broke the world record in the women’s 100 breaststroke SB11 class, earning gold in 1:19.78. China’s Ma Jia, who was also under her previous world record, took the silver (1:19.82) and Ukraine’s Yana Berezhna earned the bronze (1:27.02).

Russian Paralympic Committee’s Mariia Pavlova won the women’s 100 breaststroke SB7 class in 1:31.44 to hold off USA’s Jessica Long (1:34.82) and Australia’s Tiffany Thomas Kane (1:35.02). Long claimed her second silver medal of these Paralympic Games and fourth medal overall.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. I knew I still had a shot until my hand gets on that wall,” Long said. “I truly just want to be the best that I can be and if I’m going to be a part of the Paralympic movement, I am going to try my absolute best and whatever happens, I’ll always be trying my best.”

World record holder Sophie Pascoe of New Zealand won gold in the 200 IM SM9 class in 2:32.73, ahead of Hungary’s Zsofia Konkoly (2:33.00) and Spain’s Nuria Marques Soto (2:35.64).

Germany’s Elena Krawzow won the 100 breaststroke SB13 gold medal in 1:13.46. Great Britain’s Rebecca Redfern took the silver in 1:14.10 and USA’s Colleen Young won the bronze in 1:15.69.

“I’m blown away by how well I’ve done. I wouldn’t be here without my family, my teammates and my coaches. It’s been a grueling five years but coming away with silver and bronze medals is incredible. It’s more than I hoped for,” Young said.

In the 50 free S7 class, Russian Paralympic Committee’s Viktoriia Ishchiulova won gold in 29.91, ahead of Brazil’s Cecilia Kethlen Jeronimo de Auraujo (30.83) and Italy’s Xenia Francesca Palazzo (31.17).

The session closed with the women’s 100 breaststroke SB12 class, and a Paralympic Games record as Brazil’s Maria Carolina Gomes Santiago won gold in 1:14.89.

Russian Paralympic Committee’s Daria Lukianenko took the silver in 1:17.55, while Ukraine’s Yaryna Malto won the bronze (1:20.31).

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