China secure first gold medal of the London 2012 Paralympic Games


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The Independent Online

China's Zhang Cuiping won the first gold medal of the London Paralympics as the Shooting got underway at the Royal Artillery Barracks today.

Zhang set a new world record in the women's R2-10 metres air rifle standing SH1 and the 24-year-old was a class above her rivals as she finished with 500.9 points, well clear of Germany's Manuela Schmermund in second with Australian Natalie Smith taking bronze.

Zhang set a new Paralympic record in qualifying with 396 points and she was equally accurate in the final with a 104.9 total.

Schmermund finished with 493.6 points and Smith 492.4.

Another Australian, 70-year-old grandmother Elizabeth Kosmala, the oldest competitor at London 2012, was eighth in the final with 488.7.

Several world records were broken as the Velodrome track proved just as quick on the opening day of the Paralympics as it was during the Olympics.

Australia's Jayme Payne was the first to write her name in the record books during this morning's qualifying sessions for the women's individual pursuit, setting a new time of 4 minutes 40.123 seconds over 3000metres in the C1 class.

Soon after, Sini Zeng of China set a time of 4:19.841 to break the C2 record, and Australia's Sarah Powell then broke the C4 record with a time of 4:03.306.

Home favourite Sarah Storey then continued the record-breaking morning with a time of 3:32.170 in the C5 in front of the watching Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Storey, a winner of seven Paralympic titles since making her debut in Barcelona as a swimmer in 1992, smashed the Paralympic record of 3:36.637 she set in Beijing four years ago and improved her own world record which had stood at 3:33.248.

Britain's Jonathan Fox set a new world record at the Aquatics Centre.

Fox was already the holder of the S7 100 metres backstroke world record but today he lowered it by 0.59 seconds to one minute 9.86 seconds.

The 21-year-old Manchester based swimmer led from start to finish in his heat and was almost three seconds faster than any of his rivals into tonight's final.

It was not the only world record of the morning session with Sophie Pascoe of New Zealand lowering her own mark in the SM10 200m individual medley by 0.65secs to 2mins 28.73secs.

There was also a new Paralympic record where Fox's team-mate Nyree Kindred booked her place in the S6 100 metres backstroke final with an outstanding time of 1:27.96, lowering by 0.22 the time set by China's Lu Dong in the first heat.

Algeria's Mouloud Noura began the defence of his title in the men's -60kg judo with victory over Mongolia's Munkhbat Aajim, but Iran's Saied Rahmati, who took silver in the same classification in Beijing, suffered defeat to Marcos Falcon of Venezuela.

In the opening games of goalball at the Copperbox, Lithuania routed the hosts 11-1 before Brazil edged out Finland 6-5.