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Isis Holt’s silver sprint highlights a sparkling day for Australia in Tokyo

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Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Isis Holt produced a blistering run in the women’s T35 100m final last night to win silver to kickstart a medal rush for Australia at the Tokyo Paralympics.

It has been a tremendous return to athletics for Isis Holt with the young star claiming silver in the women’s 100m T35 event at the Tokyo Paralympics.

After bursting onto the scene when she broke her first world record as a 14-year-old, she then went on to win two gold medals and broke two world records at the 2015 World Championships in Doha.

Heading into her first Paralympics at the Rio 2016 Games, the then high-schooler was a medal favourite at the Games and finished with silver in both her individual events, beaten by China’s Xia Zhou, as well as a bronze in the T35-38 4x100m relay.

The Australian celebrated two more world championship gold medals in London in 2017 and then celebrated a breakthrough claiming gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Still only 17, studying Year 11 and already achieved so much in her sport, Isis decided to take a break from competition.

But as she approached the end of her secondary studies, the itch started to come back for Isis and she began training for Tokyo that was then six months away in a pre-COVID world.

When the Games were postponed a year, Isis’ desire and thoughts of making the team came roaring back and the silver lining is her fourth Paralympic medal.

“After the Commonwealth Games, I thought that was it for me. Then towards the end of year 12, I happened to open up my old races and caught the bug again,” Holt told Channel 7 post-race.

“I was never expecting a time like that today. It would have been awesome to win, but that PB is insane and it beat my world record, so I couldn’t be happier.”

Holt stormed into the final after producing a Paralympic Record run in her heat with a time of 13.49 seconds. She went on to break that time in the final with a lightning-fast run of 13.13 seconds which, unfortunately, was not enough to get over the top of Zhou who claimed gold in World Record time.

The 20-year-old adds a third Paralympic silver medal to her growing collection and although she admits that Paralympic gold would be nice, she is still overjoyed with her performance.

“I think there’s a few things in my race plan that I’d really like to nail but I think today was about running fast and staying relaxed and focusing on what I needed to do and I really feel like I did that,” Holt said.

The sprinter isn’t finished in Tokyo yet as she sets her sights on claiming that elusive Paralympic gold medal when she contests the women’s T35 200 metres on Sunday.

Dual Paralympians Tiffany Thomas Kane and Katja Dedekind both absorbed and pushed through pain during the final stages of their races to add another two bronze medals to Australia’s tally.

Scoring the first medal for the Aussie’s on Friday night at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre was Gold Coast 2018 team member Thomas Kane, who endured a gruelling Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM7.

Leaving nothing in the tank, the 20-year-old who won bronze in the SM6 classification at the Rio 2016 Games touched narrowly ahead of Canada’s Danielle Dorris, 3:03.11 to 3:03.16.

Thomas Kane’s time was also a personal best and gives her momentum leading into her main event, the 100m breaststroke SB7 on day eight.

Speaking after the race, Thomas Kane said she just knew she had to keep going in those last few moments.

“I didn’t have a clue where I was going into that final 50 and I thought ‘I want a medal in this’, so I really bought it home in that last fifty and man that stung but I managed to get to the wall,” she said.

“I was in so much pain that last bit and I just kept saying ‘keep moving, don’t slow down, kick those legs’, and I could see those other girls catching up – I’m just so stunned,” she exclaimed.

After rupturing her liver earlier in the year, Thomas Kane said just being in Tokyo was a feat and to make the dais was an incredible feeling.

“It was kind of a shock for me, I had an injury this year where I ruptured my liver so even getting to the Games, I didn’t think was a possibility because I had so much time out of the water and the Games and Trials was so close,” she said.

“I thought I might not even make the team. But I’m here today with a bronze medal – I can’t believe it.”

Also swimming in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM7 alongside Thomas Kane was the youngest member of the Paralympic team, Isabella Vincent. In her first final appearance, the 15-year-old claimed seventh spot in a time of 3:13.46.

After achieving a bronze medal in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S13 on Thursday night, Dedekind showed her grit and determination in the Women’s 400m Freestyle S13, to record her second bronze of the Games. Her time of 4:35.87 saw her smash her personal best by two and a half seconds and set a new Australian record.

“I’m ecstatic with that, I didn’t know how quickly I could have gone, this morning was a cruisier swim, but that one really hurt so I’m glad something good came out of it,” she said.

“I knew that the girls in the middle would go fast, and going into tonight I saw that the girls around me were also quite close to me so I knew that if I didn’t go from the first 25-50 metres I wasn’t able to go at all, so to do that and not know what was happening and then to end up with that result was just incredible.”

Dedekind will take confidence out of her swim as she prepares for her main race on day five – the Women’s 50m Freestyle S13.

A valiant swim by Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist and dual Paralympian Jesse Aungles saw him place fourth in the Men’s 100m Backstroke S8.

Swimming from lane three and posting a time right on his personal best – 1:07.94 – Aungles gave it everything he had in a highly competitive field.

Only .85 of a second separated third and fourth place, with China’s Fengqi Liu touching narrowly ahead in 1:07.09, while Robert Griswold from the USA won gold in a new world record time of 1:02.55.

In the Men’s 200m Freestyle S14 final, Gold Coast silver medallist Liam Schluter and Kurt Fearnley Scholarship recipient Ricky Betar battled it out from lanes two and seven.

Schluter, who placed fifth in Rio, went one better in 2021 and finished fourth in 1:55.67.

Once again it was so close between third and fourth, with only nine one-hundredths of a second deciding who was going to secure the last place on the dais.

After making his first Paralympic final on night one in the 100m butterfly S14, Betar finished a place higher on Friday night, touching in 1:56.70 to finish seventh.

In the corresponding event for the women, Ruby Storm, who took home a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly S14 on Wednesday night, finished seventh in 2:17.33.

Swimming faster than her heat time this morning, Storm will benefit from making another Paralympic final as she looks ahead to the rest of her program.

The Men’s 400m Freestyle S13 saw Braedan Jason place a highly commendable fourth in 4:12.75, competing as an S12 swimmer in the S13 event.

The sight of a gold medal on an Australian at the Izu Velodrome returned on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with Amanda Reid powering home to a huge win in the Women’s C1-3 500m Time Trial.

The 24-year-old was unstoppable in the first medal event of the day on the track, setting a new C2 500m TT world record at 38.487.

Competing at her third Paralympic Games, Reid now adds a gold medal to her Games collection after winning a silver at Rio 2016 in the same event.

“It just means everything, the last five years have been very up and down, so to get the gold is just amazing – it feels so great,” Reid told Channel 7 post-race.

“I was hoping for a world record, but I was a bit everywhere on the track, a bit like a zig-zag on the track and that’s because of my cerebral palsy, so it can be very interesting when you ride.

The proud Gurinagi and Wamba Wamba woman is one of two Indigenous Australians competing in this year’s Paralympics and said it means everything to her to represent her people back home.

“I’m hoping that I can encourage more Aboriginal, disabled athletes to get into sport,” she said.

Alistair Donohoe added a second silver medal to his Paralympic tally in the Men’s C5 4000m Individual Pursuit in a pulsating gold medal final.

The 26-year-old was unable to overcome Frenchman Dorian Foulon in the race for gold, who had set a new world record benchmark of 4:18.274 in qualifying.

Donohoe’s attention now turns to the road race and time trial next week, which will incorporate Fuji International Speedway.

Australian Gordon Allan added his name to the world record books earlier in the day during the Men’s C1-3 1000m Time Trial.

The youngest member of the Australian Paralympic para-cycling team stopped the clock at 1:10.331 to become the fastest C2 kilo man in history and finish fifth in the C1-3 TT.

 

With thanks Paralympics Australia, Swimming Australia and AusCycling.

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