Golden glory for GB

13 Sep 2016

World records, gold medals, shock and awe - Sascha Kindred, Ellie Simmonds and Susie Rodgers wrote their name in British sporting history at the Paralympic Games.

In the space of just 38 minutes, Kindred and Rodgers gave hope to all those who believe life can begin at 30, while the seemingly nerveless Simmonds just proved simply peerless once again.

Kindred made his Paralympic debut in Atlanta before Simmonds had celebrated her second birthday but both smashed world records in a famous eight minutes for ParalympicsGB.

And then Rodgers, who only started swimming seriously after watching Simmonds win double gold in Beijing, claimed a victory that left her shaking with disbelief.

Rio will be the 38-year old Kindred’s sixth and final Games and his victory in the 200m medley SM6 final, a 13th medal and seventh gold, was arguably his greatest yet.

Kindred been disqualified for an illegal kick during the morning heats, only to be reinstated after a team appeal.

He’d won silver in the event four years ago but was a gold medallist in his specialty discipline in Beijing, Athens and Sydney - and there was only one medal he wanted to retire with. And, after clocking a world record 2:38.47, he said:

“That’s my last Paralympic race. I’m not Steve Redgrave but I’m 99 percent sure you won’t see me in Tokyo.

“13 medals and that’s my lucky number. Seven golds and that’s a special number to me too. I’m a big Man United fan and seven is a pretty important number to us. 

“Swimming can be a very lonely sport and to achieve that at 38 makes everything worthwhile, this is what all the hard work is for.

“It’s been a day of highs and lows, such a rollercoaster after the disqualification and reinstatement. I knew I was in form and I just hoped all that training would pay off.

“To be Paralympic champion and a world record holder at 38, is very special. I didn’t feel I deserved a disqualification and it did give me an extra motivation to finish on a high.”

Simmonds claimed the fifth Paralympic gold of her career - and rewrote swimming history in the process.

The 21-year old became the first SM6 swimmer to dip below three minutes in the 200m medley, as she clocked a world record 2:59.81. She said: “To swim a personal best, get a world record and another gold medal, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I just focused on myself and didn’t think about what anyone else was doing.

“The Paralympics brings out the best in me. I love the pressure, it drives me forward and I just want to go out there and smash it.

“Last year I set a goal of being the first in my class to go under three minutes. I didn’t tell anyone, my coach or my family, and now I’ve done it.

“I saw Sascha in the call room and I thought I had to do it, it made me even more nervous. The team is on fire and we’ve still got five more days to go.”

But arguably the best was saved for last. Kindred and Simmonds have won 12 Paralympic golds between them but Rodgers, 33, never even expected to win one.

She’s spent recent weeks in and out of hospital but finally turned her four career bronzes into the most brilliant gold, clocking 35.07 secs to win women’s 50m butterfly S7 gold. She said: “I can’t believe I just did that, I think the look on my face said it all. I thought I was going for silver, I never expected to win gold in my wildest dreams.

“I was ill for six weeks and in and out of hospital in the build-up and I never thought this could happen. I don’t think I’ll ever come down from this.

“I knew I could do a quick time but never that quick. My job is done, I don’t think this will ever sink in. This goes to show that no matter how old you are, you can still pull things out of the bag.”

At just 13 Abby Kane is the youngest member of ParalympicsGB in Rio and she produced another personal best to finish sixth in the 400m freestyle S13 final.

After clocking 4:49.27, she will now look towards the 100m backstroke later this week, saying:

“There is definitely room for improvement but I’ve got loads of time. This is all about experience and fun for me right now. I’m really buzzing for the backstroke now but I’ve got to wait a few days."

Elsewhere, Alice Tai, 17, clocked 1:11.92 to finish seventh in the women’s 100m butterfly S10 final while Andrew Mullen’s 34.87 sec personal best secured fifth in the men’s 50m freestyle S5 final.