• To Birmingham 2022

Commonwealth Games Australia Alumni shine at the Tokyo Paralympics

PRINT PAGE
Image: Getty Images

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Madison de Rozario headlines the nine Commonwealth Games Australia alumni members who won medals at the Tokyo Paralympics over the weekend.

Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Madison de Rozario can now add the title of Paralympic gold medallist to her decorated career achievement list.

The wheelchair racer won the women’s 800m T53 event at the Tokyo Games, an achievement made all the sweeter after a self-described “tactically terrible” race in the 5000m T54 event a day earlier resulted in fifth place.

De Rozario worked with her coach and legendary wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage to concoct a plan that would earn her the elusive gold medal.

“I wasn’t sure how the race was going to go,” De Rozario told Channel 7 post-race.

“My coach Louise (Sauvage) and I watched all the footage from the heats, and we could tell some of the girls were putting it all out there today and others weren’t, so we knew we’d have to go hard.

“I don’t have the fastest start, so I knew what I had to do and I followed the plan I set perfectly.”

 

 

In a heart-warming moment following her breakthrough win, de Rozario thanked not only her coach Sauvage but also fellow Commonwealth Games gold medallist Angie Ballard,  who placed seventh (1:52.22) for a season-best in the final.

“They are two women who have been there at every point of my career, and even in my life considering I started racing at 12 or 13,” de Rozario said.

“Both have been there from the beginning. At my first Games in Beijing, I raced in Angie’s old race chair.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them with me here.”

De Rozario’s victory at the Japan National Stadium was Australia’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Paralympics, but de Rozario wasn’t the only Aussie who made it to the victory dais as

Sprinter Isis Holt made it a silver double at the Games after finishing behind China’s Zhou Xia in a tightly contested 200m T35 final.

Holt exploded out of the blocks taking the lead over the field around the bend, but down the final stretch, Holt acknowledged “the CP” caught her off guard and saw Xia overcome Holt’s lead to pip her for the second straight race at these Games.

“The CP” the young Australian talks of is the cerebral palsy Holts suffers from, the condition saw her muscles tightening in the final moments allowing her Chinese rival to claim the gold in a new world record time.

 

 

Holt beat the previous world record mark herself to claim her fifth career Paralympics medal but was gracious in defeat.

“I think that was one of the most insane races I’ve ever had,” Holt said post-race.

“That first 100 felt so good. Coming off that bend, I got everything right that I wanted to get right, but the nature of CP caught me off guard a bit but I hung off as bad as I could.

“That’s the nature of the beast and that’s what we love about it.”

Fellow Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games sprinting gold medallist Evan O’Hanlon has made a miraculous comeback to the track to win bronze in the men’s 100m T38 event, his eighth Paralympics medal.

After announcing his retirement from the track after winning silver in the same event at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, O’Hanlon got the itch to compete again when it was announced his T38 class would be on the sport program at the Gold Coast 2018 Games.

Returning to the sport proved to be a golden decision as O’Hanlon won gold in the event in front of a home crowd and was set to run off into the sunset and move his young family to his wife’s home country of the Czech Republic.

The move abroad also allowed O’Hanlon to pursue a new challenge of attempting to qualify for the Winter Olympics in bobsled, with the hope of becoming Australia’s first Paralympian to make a Winter Olympics team.

In training for a new sport that focuses on explosive speed out of the blocks, it allowed O’Hanlon to keep in shape for his pet sprinting event and an opportunity to compete in Tokyo.

 

 

An opportunity which resulted in bronze, and shared O’Hanlon’s laser-focus on achieving his Winter Olympics goal, willing to do “anything”, even selling his newly won bronze medal to help raise funds to achieve his dream.

“Your dirtiest thought, we’ll do it,” O’Hanlon said post-race.

“It costs about $100,000 for a season, so if anyone can help out, that would be great. We’d be happy to do absolutely anything for it.

“I’ve just bought $40,000 worth of sleds this year to be able to compete at a decent level. They’re not even top sleds. That’s out of my own pocket. If anybody out there wants to help me out, I’m happy to give them my bronze medal or any other medal, for that matter. They can have them all.”

It was a bronzed weekend for the Australian athletics team with Robyn Lambird impressed in her first appearance at a Paralympic Games winning bronze in the 100m T34 event.

Lambird clocked a season-best of 18.68 to appear on the podium with new world record Hannah Cockroft (16.39) and Kare Adenegan who completed a GB quinella, in an event that will feature at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“The start has always been one of my strengths so I knew if I came out hard I could hold on, keep up with the girls and be a threat. To debut and get a medal at your first Games… you can’t ask for much more than that,” Lambird said post-race.

 

 

Mother of four and grandmother of two, Sarah Edmiston won bronze, in the women’s discus throw F64.

An F44 athlete, Edmiston competed in the combined class for athletes with lower leg impairments and threw an enormous 37.85m on her last attempt for a new Australian record and her first Paralympics medal, the women’s discus throw F64 will also be on the sport program at Birmingham 2022.

Edmiston, who competed as an able-bodied hammer thrower before sustaining an injury from a water-skiing accident, shed tears of joy just seconds after her final throw.

“I was so happy with how my competition went. My lead up was fantastic, I came in in really great shape and I’m stoked with my performance today,” she said.

“Athletics has always been a passion of mine. I started at a young age, and even after my accident, I came back as an able-bodied athlete before finding my way to Para-sport and it’s been an amazing journey ever since.”

 

 

The Tokyo Aquatics Centre continued to produce results for the Australian Dolphins swim team.

Rowan Crothers won silver in 100m Freestyle S9  behind Ukrainian Maksym Krypak who needed to set a new world record time to overcome the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

The silver medal was Crothers second medal of the Tokyo Games.

 

 

Commonwealth Games Australia’s Athlete Advisory Group co-chair Matthew Levy OAM claimed his eighth career medal at his fifth Paralympics when he finished third behind Ukrainian Yevhenii Bohodaiko and Colombia’s Nelson Crispin Cordo in the men’s SB6 100m breaststroke.

Levy won gold in the 50m Freestyle S7 event at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

 

 

In a dramatic end to the weekend of racing, the women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay (34 points) comprising of Commonwealth Games Australia alumni Ellie Cole, Emily Beecroft and Ashleigh McConnell, joined with 15-year-old Isabella Vincent to storm home to claim bronze.

However in a twist, the gold-medal-winning USA team was disqualified which saw the Aussies promoted to second position and the silver medal.

A protest took place which postponed the medal ceremony until the following day, but the silver medal marks a number of significant milestones for the team.

The silver medal gives Ellie Cole her 16th career Paralympic medal, and is Vincent and Gold Coast 2018 team member Beecroft’s first Paralympic medal.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by AUSParalympics (@ausparalympics)

 

With her experience, Cole dived in first and gave the green and gold a terrific start, while on her debut Vincent held strong to keep the team in touch and Beecroft and McConnell powered through the field to gain a coveted spot on the dais.

The quartet were elated to receive a medal and were over the moon to secure a spot on the dais.

“We all just wanted to go out there and swim for Australia and do Australia proud so for us to win a medal here is a dream come true for a lot of us and to be able to stand on the podium for the first time with these girls at the Games is amazing,” Cole said post-race.

“Our team is so close, and our culture is so great, we’re all very supportive of each other and I know we’re going to stay friends for a very long time so it’s a very wonderful and rare moment to share with these girls.”

With thanks Paralympics Australia, Athletics Australia and Swimming Australia.

OTHER NEWS