Claire Cashmore achieved her dream of Paralympic gold after helping ParalympicsGB 4x100m medley team to victory in Rio.
Four-time Paralympian Cashmore, 28 made her debut at the 2004 Games in Athens and has won seven medals - but never a gold.
She was in tears after settling for silver in her signature 100m butterfly S9 earlier this week but there was nothing but smiles as a world record time of 4:45.23 secured her, Alice Tai, Stephanie Slater and Stephanie Millward the title ahead of Australia and the United States. Cashmore said: “This time it’s tears of happiness and not tears of sadness. We’ve got a fantastic team. We lost by such a small margin in London so to come back tonight and beat the Aussies is such an unbelievable feeling.
“You feel so out of control when Steph [Millward] is swimming the last leg, you are just willing her on. And to get a world record is brilliant.
“It was my last race of this Paralympic Games and I just wanted to finish on a high and we definitely have done that.”
Andrew Mullen sealed a stunning silver in the S5 50m backstroke, stopping the clock in 37.94 seconds as Brazil’s Daniel Dias won a popular gold. He said: “I go into every race wanting to win, that’s my personality, I like to think I can challenge anyone. But that was a fantastic swim from Daniel. I came away with a silver, so it’s bitter sweet.
“I’ve had a great week here, I’ve swam four races and swam three personal bests so I can’t really complain with that. It’s my second Paralympic record.”
Hannah Russell won her second medal of the Games as she clinched bronze in the S13 100m freestyle.
The 20-year-old, who was crowned 100m backstroke S12 champion on Wednesday, set a time of 1:00.07 to finish third behind Anna Stetsenko of the Ukraine in first and USA’s Rebecca Meyers in second.
She said: “I was hoping to go quicker but a bronze medal is a bronze medal and I should be happy with that.
“I’ve been told that my personal best would have won gold, it’s quite hard to hear.
“I have the 50m freestyle tomorrow which is one of my main events so I’m hoping to get a new personal best in that. That’s my biggest aim and if I do that, that’s my goal achieved.”
James Crisp was also left rueing a missed opportunity as he finished fourth in the S9 100m backstroke. He stopped the clock in 1:05.01 but missed out on a medal, despite qualifying joint fastest from the heats.
Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Crisp said:
“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how I move forward from this. The annoying thing is, the time I did at the European Championships earlier in the year would have comfortably won me the gold here.
“I’m just gutted at the moment. You’re only as good as your last swim, and going by that, I’m awful.
“I need to take two or three months to figure out what I need to do and what I want to do, but that wasn’t good enough from me.”
In the S8 50m freestyle, Slater missed out on a medal by the narrowest of margins, touching the wall just one hundredth of a second short of bronze with a time of 30.54 secs. ParalympicsGB team-mate Millward, who had earlier set a new Paralympic record in the heats, finished in fifth place in 30.73 seconds.
It was an agonising night too for Susie Rodgers as she missed out on a bronze medal in the S7 100m freestyle by seven hundredths of a second, stopping the clock in 1:12.92.
But after winning 50m butterfly gold last Friday, the 33-year-old insisted she would still leave Rio with a smile on her face.
Rodgers, who also won 400m freestyle bronze, said: “I was a jack of all trades in London but in Rio I wanted to be a master, and I’m a master of one, so that’s fine by me.
“If you win a Paralympic gold medal, that’s all you can ever ask for. In London, it was all about spreading myself thinly across all events, but it doesn’t work as you get older, so targeting that one event was our plan and it worked.
“No-one likes coming fourth, but I really feel I’ve had a really strong meet, done the best I can and I’ve literally given it everything.”
In the men’s equivalent, Jonathan Fox and Michael Jones finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Amy Marren – who won 200m individual medley bronze on Sunday – finished sixth place in the S9 100m backstroke, stopping the clock in 1:14.58 as Australia’s Ellie Cole set a new Paralympic record.
And it was a sixth-place finish for Josef Craig too in the S8 50m freestyle final.