Paralympics: Holmes upbeat despite defeat

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The Independent Online
World records are continuing to tumble with alarming regularity at the Paralympic Games in Atlanta, and nowhere more so than in the pool.

Chris Holmes, the partially sighted Cambridge graduate who is a veteran of three Paralympic games and the most successful British competitor in Barcelona in 1992 with six gold medals and one silver in the water, began his campaign in the men's B2 200m medley, finishing second in 2min 23.84sec behind Australia's Kingsley Bulgarin, who recorded 2:22.45. Both men were inside the old record by almost five seconds.

Holmes, although not overly disappointed, believed with better funding he could have improved as dramatically as Bulgarin. He said: "The improvement we are seeing in the pool is amazing, but a lot of what we are seeing here symbolises the difference between Britain and the way other nations are pursuing their sport. Bulgarin has been getting pounds 10,000 funding a year, paid by his state, which is bound to have an effect.

"However, this record has stood since 1984. I really felt that if I could go under it, I would win it. I did, and went under my personal best by five seconds, but when I get him on to the sprint freestyle, that is my territory."

Jody Cundy, a below-the-knee amputee, registered a new world record in the S10 100m butterfly with 1min 02.44sec. Giles Long also took gold in the 100m butterfly, but in the S8 category, while Tim Reddish claimed silver in the B2 200m medley. Tetraplegic Kenneth Cairns finished in the silver medal position behind Slovakia's Andrej Zatko in the men's S3 50m butterfly.

Zatko, with no arms to speak of and only three feet tall, powered away underwater at the start with Cairns never getting nearer than five metres to the Slovakian, who set another Paralympic record in 1min 11.23sec.

Britain's standing volleyball team, made up of amputees, exited the competition on Sunday after losing to Israel. Defeats in straight sets by Germany and Slovakia left the Britons needing to defeat Israel to be sure of a quarter-final place, but they were narrowly beaten 3-2.