Jones fights his way to third successive gold

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The Independent Online
An emotional Simon Jackson was crowned a paralympic judo champion for the third successive time in Atlanta last night. The partially sighted judo player enjoyed the vocal support of a noisy British contingent to register another remarkable success in an unbeaten run stretching back to his gold medal winning performance at Seoul in 1988 when he took the 78kg crown.

As each Games has arrived Jackson has moved up a weight category: 60kg at Seoul, 71kg at Barcelona. And there were a few tears from the man who carried the flag for Great Britain at the opening ceremony.

So good is the judo fighter from Rochdale that he regularly competes in sighted competitions - with no little success. He often trains with the national squad, and if sighted competitors were to begin their contests by gripping their opponents' jackets, as they do in partially sighted contests - Jackson would be a match for the best in the world.

Jackson's success crowned a momentous second day for the British squad across a range of sports. Two silver medals arrived in the morning at the Olympic Stadium, for Paul Williams in the javelin and Alan Earle in the high jump, followed by the first British gold of the games courtesy of 15-year-old Emily Jennings before a packed poolside in the 200m SM9 individual medley.

Margaret McEleny collected silver in the 150m SM4 individual medley, and there was bronze for Giles Long in the 200m SM8 individual medley.

The medals were not won without drama and it was the United States who felt the backlash from a British team who are beginning to emerge as a popular - and determined - group.

Long's medal came after he had finished fourth in the final when the American Jason Wening, who finished second, was disqualified.

Jennings's gold medal winning performance was the highlight of the evening's swimming action. Having been behind the American Joyce Luncher going into the last length, Jennings went for broke over the closing 20 metres to edge fractionally ahead of her American counterpart. It may be a telling result for the swimming squad as a whole, with much expected of them after capturing almost half of Great Britain's total medal tally at the Barcelona Games in 1992, where they registered 25 gold, 27 silver and 17 bronze medals.

The huge crowds at the poolside have been boosted by the much-publicised strength of the United States' swimming squad, spearheaded by Tricha Zorn, a 32-year-old blind school teacher from Orange County, California.

Britain's men's wheelchair basketball team had a close run in with Mexico but ran out eventual winners 52-46.

Great Britain, ranked second in the world to the United States who have not been beaten since 1991, are in the mood for an upset of the form book in the finals.

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