Swimming records tumble as Craig surpasses all expectations

 

For Josef Craig this was supposed to be about Rio, a learning experience for four years time. Instead the 15-year-old gave a nerveless lesson in how to swim an event at the highest level; yesterday morning he broke the world record in the heats of the S7 400m freestyle; last night he broke it again and took gold.

It was a performance that could only have impressed the teenage Britons who have preceded him on to the top of the Paralympic podium, Ellie Simmonds, 13 when she won her gold medals in Beijing, and Sarah Storey, 14 when she won two golds in Barcelona 20 years ago.

Craig, from Jarrow, was not only making his Paralympics debut, it is also the first time he has swum in an international event. Prior to this a bronze here in the British trials is his most notable achievement.

"I'm quite shocked by this. I might need a bit of therapy!" he said of a race he won by nearly three and a half seconds from China's Pan Shiyun. "I genuinely didn't think this would happen but I thought 'last 400m of the season, it doesn't matter if I die at the end, just go for it'. I didn't think I had it in me. It means more than anything in the world. It's the happiest day of my life. I wish I could do it all over again." He will have to save that for Rio.

Susie Rodgers won Britain's 100th medal of the Games and her own third with a bronze in the women's equivalent. Steph Millward took her fourth medal in the SM9 200m individual medley, a third silver to go with a bronze, and there was bronze in the same race for Louise Watkin, her third medal, but neither could come close to South Africa's Natalie du Toit, who claimed a 13th gold of her career.

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