Medal rush continues in Rio

14 Sep 2016

Matt Wylie brought the curtain down on ParalympicsGB’s sixth day of action in the pool by winning the team's second gold of the evening session.

Stephanie Millward had struck gold just 20 minutes earlier and Wylie, 19, from Washington, held his nerve to win his first Paralympic medal on his Paralympic debut, in the men’s S9 50m freestyle.

Wylie was the only man to duck under 26 seconds in the heats and he did so again to record a time of 25.95, and take the gold by just four hundredths of a second.

He said: “After this morning I wasn’t sure if winning was possible, but it just shows that anything is possible at the Paralympic Games.

“It’s been a bit of a wait for me, seeing everyone do well, gold medals have been won all week and just knowing that my chance was coming, then not swimming as well as I’d have liked this morning, I thought ‘hmm’. But then I got in tonight and just gave everything there.

“I’ve only been really focussed on the 50m for a season now, two seasons ago I was mainly a 400m guy. The progress I have made in a year, I can’t believe it.

ParalympicsGB’s Ryan Crouch, 22, of Manningtree, was also in the race and he finished eighth, in a time of 26.76.

Wylie’s gold followed a first ever Paralympic gold for Millward, who had been to two previous Games and won five medals at London 2012, but none of them gold.

But Millward, who had qualified fastest for the S8 100m backstroke final, touched the wall first in a time of 1:13.02 - good enough for gold, and a Paralympic record, while teamamte Stephanie Slater was fifth in 1:19.42.

After the race 34-year-old Corsham athlete Millward dedicated her win to those who play the National Lottery and help fund elite sport in the country.

She said:  “Every time the general public pay £2 and play the National Lottery it is helping to raise the awareness of swimming and of other sports, it’s fantastic.

“It’s given me the opportunity to be a Paralympic swimmer and to win that gold, so to everybody, thank you very much.

“Going onto the podium will be amazing and it’s all because of everybody in the general public, everyone in the UK, everyone around the world, it’s amazing, thank you so much for all your help.”

And the previous race to Millward’s had seen Ollie Hynd win his second medal of Rio 2016, adding a silver in the men’s S8 100m backstroke to his gold in the S8 400m freestyle.

Hynd finished in 1:04.46, enough for a new personal best and a British record, meaning it took a world record of 1:02.90 by China’s Zhou Cong to beat him.

The 21-year-old from Mansfield said: “It’s obviously nice to get on the podium again, add to the collection and move up one medal from London too.

“It shows progression and that’s something that I wanted to see over the four year cycle, so I’m happy with it.

“I’m in a bubble, I’m focussing on my performances so I’m not really thinking about what’s going on too much at home. But what I can say, the support I’ve personally received has been incredible. 

And the night had begun with a bronze medal for S6 200m individual medley champion Ellie Simmonds.

The five-time Paralympic champion touched the wall in 5:24.87 as she was beaten to gold by Ukraine’s world record holder, Yelyzaveta Mereshko.

The 21-year-old from Aldridge, who was unable to defend her titles from Beijing 2008 and London 2012, said:   “I don’t really know what happened, I just didn’t have anything at all in me tonight.

“I had a great warm up then I don’t know what happened. I’ve been in good form, but it wasn’t what I wanted at all. It was a lot slower time than I’ve been training before, it wasn’t good.

“It was just one of those days I think, after last night maybe, doing a world record and having a late night, but normally I can do that - I just don’t know what happened.

“I love the 400m freestyle, it made me qualify for the Paralympics in 2008, that’s the event I qualified in. I’ve been unbeaten for a long time but I just wasn’t good enough.”

Simmond’s namesake, 15-year-old Ellie Robinson, from Northampton, finished one place behind her in the final, stopping the clock in 5:27.53 - a new personal best.