Paralympics (Day 10 Men): Evan Austin, Robert Griswold End Games with Golds

Griswold-para-swimming
Photo Courtesy: Robert Griswold

Paralympics (Day 10 Men): Evan Austin, Robert Griswold End Games with Golds

Evan Austin and Robert Griswold set American records to grab gold on the final night of the Tokyo Paralympics on Friday.

Austin had a race on his hands in the men’s S7 50 butterfly, a race where .72 seconds separated the top five finishers. When the wash settled, Austin was first to the wall in 28.98 seconds, an American mark. He was .05 faster than Ukraine’s Andrii Trusov, who set a European record. Carlos Daniel Serrano of Colombia claimed bronze.

“Still processing for sure, but I just got to see my family on the monitor there,” Austin said. “I’m just so thankful and so grateful for my community, and my village and my family. Their support is a reason I just won.”

Austin had earlier won bronze in the S7 400 free. He’s the reigning world champion in the event, though he said that didn’t add any pressure to his final swim.

“I felt some freedom,” he said. “Being a world champion, even if it’s just for that day, that’s the title that sticks with you. And so, on a day that I was asked to be the best in the world, I had already done that. And so all this stuff is a bonus now. Obviously Paralympic champion is something I wanted but I just came in with the (thinking) that we’ll see what happens. I knew I was in good shape. I wasn’t really worried about the eyes on me – I do well in front of the cameras anyway. …

“I was just excited to get the opportunity to race. I knew I was going to be in the fight, and I was going to really have a shot at being a Paralympic champion.”

Griswold’s romp to a second gold at these Games was less contentious. He led the field in the S8 100 fly by eight tenths at the wall and never looked back, collecting a winning margin of 1.17 seconds. His time of 1:02.03 set the Americas record.

“I feel amazing,” Griswold said. “I knew that this was going to be a close race. This morning part of my plan was to kind of shake things up, go out there and set up a decent time. And it was a tight field and some, some of the top contenders didn’t make it through but I was fortunate enough to do that.

“I wanted to really improve on my swim tonight, and I kind of just use my front-end speed, take it out, was very slow and methodical. It was a very thoughtful race for me, and I was just disciplined and ready in that last 25 and just making sure that I kept long and kept my cool and kept breathing and made into the wall first.”

China’s Yang Feng won the pitched battled for second, with spots two through five separated by .22. Yang went 1:03.20, three hundredths ahead of Ukraine’s Denys Dubrov in bronze.

Maksym Krypak clinched his place as the most decorated Paralympic swimmer of these Games by winning the SM10 200 individual medley. His time of 2:05.68 set the Paralympic record, just .05 off the world record. He won by two seconds over Stefano Raimondi of Italy.

It’s the Ukrainian’s seventh medal in Tokyo and fifth gold.

Roman Zhdanov won one of the best races of the day in the S4 50 backstroke. The Czech Republic’s Arnost Petraceck set the Paralympic record in prelims, then went a half-second faster in the finals to 41.26 seconds. But that was only good for silver thanks to Zhdanov, who lowered his world record by a half-second to 40.99 to take gold.

“I was planning to be first but to do it again with a world record, I was not thinking of that,” said Zhdanov, who will be Russia’s flagbearer at the Closing Ceremonies.

China’s Jia Hongguang won the S6 100 backstroke in 1:12.72, his second gold and fourth total medal of the Games. Keiichi Kimura led a 1-2 for the host country in the S11 100 fly with a time of 1:02.57 that led countryman Uchu Tomita to the wall. Denys Ostapchenko of Ukraine won the S3 200 free ahead of the Mexican duo of Diego Lopez Diaz and Jesus Hernandez. Azerbaijan’s Raman Salei went 57.81 to win the S12 100 fly, edging world record holder Stephen Clegg of Great Britain by .06. It’s Salei’s third gold of the Games.

Russia won the 34 points medley relay in 4:06.59, just off the world record, with the squad of Bogdan Mozgovoi, Andre Kalina, Alexander Skaliukh and Andrei Nikolaev. Mozgovoi re-set his world record in the S9 100 back off the front of the relay at 1:01.00.