Britain in medal hunt

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The Independent Online

Great Britain and Spain are once again in a dog-eat-dog situation as they battle it out for second place in the medal table at the end of day eight in the Paralympics in Sydney today.

Great Britain and Spain are once again in a dog-eat-dog situation as they battle it out for second place in the medal table at the end of day eight in the Paralympics in Sydney today.

With 45 golds among a total of 110 medals, hosts Australia are all but certain to be the top country, however it is nip and tuck between the two European powers who will head the rest of the world.

Placings are primarily determined by the number of gold medals won and Britain have gained 31 golds, 21 silver and 36 bronze with the Spaniards statistics reading 30-25-23.

Four of Britain's golds came today with two in the pool, one in the athletic stadium and their first at the Horsley park Equestrian Centre, which came courtesy of England's Lee Pearson who won the Individual dressage Grade 1 event.

Pearson, riding Chipchasemeknes, scored 67.96 points finishing over a point ahead of Denmark's Brita Anderson.

Dorset's Dianne Tubbs riding Jaenaadi Jedi finished in sixth place with 65.18 points.

"I am gobsmacked but ecstatic," said the Staffordshire-based rider.

"I did not think today would be my day. I was not feeling too good yesterday or this morning, but this has lifted me."

Pearson only discovered his mount for the competition when the allocations were made last week and was not at all sure of the merits of Chipchasemeknes.

"He is quite lethargic, not what we in the trade call a push button mount. I had to do a lot to keep him up to his work."

Pearson is now turning his sights to the team event.

"Winning gold in that is our aim now and it would be marvellous to pull together and win that."

In the pool, there was a thrilling finish to the men's 4x100metres freestyle where Cambridgeshire's Jody Cundy produced an amazing anchor leg swim to grab gold for the British team.

Cundy, who contests the butterfly stroke in his individual events, swam a personal best freestyle time of 58.9secs in an outstanding finale to overcome the Canadian leader and deny the late challenge of Australia.

In winning the final the British squad of Cundy, Stockport's Matthew Walker, London's Marc Woods and David Roberts from Pontypridd also smashed their own world record of four minutes and 10.76secs with a time of 4:06.85.

Afterwards a proud Cundy said: "I knew the Aussie was three seconds faster than my personal best. When I saw he had not passed me by the turn I knew I could do it."

Earlier Kenny Cairns retained the S3 classification of the men's 100m freestyle title he won in Atlanta with a new Paralympic record of 1:54.14, defeating Russia's Albert Bakaev by just under five seconds.

"I felt it would be close at the turn and I did not know what kind of lead I had, but I knew I had turned quickly and just went for it," said Cairns.

Middlesbrough's Ken Churchill won Britain's fourth gold of the day in the F37 classification of the Javelin.

He secured gold with a throw of 43.84m, over two metres more than silver medallist Kobus Jonker from South Africa.

The British were comprehensively beaten by competition favourites Canada in the semi-final of the wheelchair basketball competition.

The Canadians now go on to meet the Netherlands in the final after the Dutch won a thriller against the United States by 63 points to 62.

Britain will need to beat the Americans on Saturday to come away with the bronze medal.

Ireland enjoyed a golden-double today with swimmer Mairead Berry taking gold in the pool and the pairing of John Cronin and Mary Grant taking the Bottia pairs title.

Dubliner Berry won the S2 classification of the women's 100m freestyle, smashing the world record in the process.

Cronin and Grant defeated the Spanish pairing of Yolanda Martin and Santiago Pesquera, ranked second in the world, 5-2 to win their gold.