Cyclists lead charge for Britain as gold rush resumes
Monday 08 September 2008
Great Britain stormed to joint first place in the medal table at the end of day one of the Paralympic Games here after winning four gold medals.
Simon Richardson won the first of three cycling gold medals as Britain extended their dominance of the Laoshan Velodrome track. Aileen McGlynn – with pilot rider Ellen Hunter – and Darren Kenny successfully defended their titles and swimmer Sascha Kindred took inspiration from the cyclists' performances to win gold – his fifth Paralympic title – at the Water Cube.
Three further medals were won in the pool to take Britain's total to seven, while the United States won four golds and nine medals in all.
Britain's supremacy at the velodrome continued with victories in the first three events, adding to the seven out of 10 triumphs at last month's Olympics. Kenny, aiming for a personal haul of five golds after two wins and two silvers in Athens, then sent out an ominous warning to the rest of the competition on the medal prospects of the team.
"I don't think there's anyone here that's not capable of getting the gold," said Kenny after his triumph in the CP3/4 three-kilometre individual pursuit. "That's the standard to get on to the team at the moment – we've left behind people that are capable of winning medals because of the number of spaces we're allocated."
The 38-year-old from Dorset took almost six seconds off his own world record in the heat, lowering the mark to three minutes 36.875 seconds before overtaking South Korea's Jin Yong-sik after just 1,000 metres of the final. Kenny, who was a promising junior rider before a series of crashes led to his disability, believes he can achieve his personal quest of five titles.
McGlynn and Hunter were triumphant for the second straight Games in the women's B&VI 1-3 one-kilometre time-trial, clocking a world record of 1min 9.066secs. "You just have to put the training in and have confidence in the training you do all year long and it's all going to work out on the day," said the 35-year-old McGlynn. "We knew we had it in the bank to do a good time."
While the pair, like Kenny, were expected to deliver, Richardson believed his LC3/4 one-kilometre ride would act as a warm-up for the individual pursuit. But the 41-year-old went on to set a world record of 1:14.936 and take gold. "It was a real shock to get the gold – we didn't come here for the kilometre," he said.
The former club rider from Porthcawl in Wales was left without any feeling in his left side after a road accident in 2001. He only took up the sport again after being told by doctors he could end up in a wheelchair if he remained inactive.
Richardson revealed that Great Britain's Olympic kilometre champions from Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 had contributed to his success. "The bike I've got now is Jason Queally's frame and Chris Hoy's handlebars," added Richardson.
Kindred, competing in his fourth Paralympics, clinched his ninth medal and his fifth gold. The 30-year-old from Hereford lowered his own world and Paralympic record to 2:42.19 in winning a third straight SM6 200 metres individual medley title.
Kindred will chase a third successive gold in the 100m breaststroke later this week, while he is also hoping to medal in the 50m butterfly.
Broxburn's Jim Anderson – a four-time champion in Athens – won silver in the S2 200m freestyle for Britain's first swimming medal before Kindred's victory.
Natalie Jones and Matt Walker each collected bronze medals. Defending champion Jones was third in the SM6 women's 200m IM before Walker won Britain's fourth swimming medal in the SM7 men's 200m IM.
Kindred added that the swim team are determined to out-perform the cyclists. "We want to try and do as well as they have," he said. "I know they've got a brilliant team, but we've got a brilliant team with youth and experience. Hopefully we can bring back a few more medals as well."
Judoka Ben Quilter narrowly missed out on a medal after losing the bronze battle in the under 60kg category. Shooter Di Coates, competing at her seventh Paralympic Games and attempting to win her fourth gold medal, finished eighth in the R2 10m standing air rifle.
Britain's Paralympians: Where medals were won
Darren Kenny Cycling: CP3/4 3km individual pursuit.
Aileen McGlynn and Ellen Hunter Cycling: B&VI 1-3 1km time-trial.
Simon Richardson Cycling LC3/4 1km
Sascha Kindred (left) Swimming: SM6 200m individual medley
Jim Anderson Swimming: S2 200m freestyle
Natalie Jones Swimming: SM6 200m Individual Medley
Matt Walker Swimming: SM7 200m individual medley
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