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ParalympicsGB team better London 2012 tally in Rio

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Paralympics 2016: Hannah Cockroft wins T34 800m to claim third gold in Rio

ParalympicsGB surpassed their London 2012 medal tally of 120 on day nine of the Games in Rio.

The team have now won 126 medals, including nine more golds on Friday.

Gordon Reid won the wheelchair tennis final, Hannah Cockroft clinched the T34 800m, there was swimming relay gold and Sophie Christiansen,Lee Pearson and Natasha Baker won in the dressage.

Paul Blake took T36 400m gold, there was boccia success for David Smith, and John Walker landed archery gold.

Sophie Wells, 26, and 67-year-old Anne Dunham both won silver in the dressage, and silvers also went to T1-2 road cyclist David Stone and Andrew Marren, in the S5 50m backstroke.

The Briton finished behind Brazilian swimming superstar Daniel Dias, who won his third gold and seventh medal of the Games. The 28-year-old has now amassed 21 Paralympic medals in his career.

There was British medal success in the table tennis as Will Bayley, Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson won class 6-8 bronze in the team event.

And discus thrower Dan Greaves maintained his record of having won a medal at every Games, by winning his fifth in his fifth Paralympics. This time it was bronze for the Leicestershire-born 33-year-old in the F44 final.

Britain have a total of 58 gold medals from these Games and reached the 50 mark when Blake won his T36 race in a time of 54.49 seconds – nearly a second clear of Ukraine’s Roman Pavlyk and New Zealander William Stedman.

UK Sport set ParalympicsGB a target of 121 medals, which was achieved when Cockroft blitzed the field to win in the Olympic Stadium and team-mate Kare Adenegan took bronze.

The team have also surpassed the 122 medals won at Atlanta 1996.

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‘That mark is incredible’

Reaction to Great Britain’s achievement soon followed.

Swimmer Sascha Kindred, who won gold in the SM6,told BBC Radio 5 live: “When we competed in London and reached the mark we thought it’d be hard to beat.

“This team has worked hard in training and to pass that mark is incredible. I’m so glad to be part of this team. ParalympicsGB has done an amazing job.”

UK sports minister Tracey Crouch also tweeted a photo, just moments after Cockroft’s victory.

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Sports minister Tracey Crouch (bottom) with members of ParalympicsGB

And UK Sport also congratulated the team:

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Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, said: “Rio 2016 is further proof of the effectiveness of our high-performance system across Olympic and Paralympic sport.

“The outstanding results at the ever-more-competitive Paralympic Games show we have more strength in depth and breadth than ever before and our increased investment over this Rio cycle has been targeted in a way that has made a significant difference.”

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, added: “We knew Rio 2016 would be the most competitive yet so to be able to match that with our own highly competitive performances is fantastic. We hope it will provide the inspiration in the UK and globally to inspire a better world for disabled people.”

ParalympicsGB now have two more targets in their sights – the 128 won at Barcelona 1992 and the 131 achieved at Sydney 2000.

Analysis

BBC Sport’s Nick Hope in Rio

“Make no mistake it is a great achievement by ParalympicsGB to beat their London 2012 medal of 120 in Rio.

“However, we need to acknowledge that Russia are not here. It’s not like in the Olympics where the nation’s numbers were reduced by bans, the International Paralympic Committee [IPC] blocked Russia’s entire delegation from participating in the Games.

“Rightly or wrongly that ruled out the nation who finished second on the medal table at London 2012 with 36 gold medals and 102 honours in total.

“UK Sport set their medal targets prior to the announcement that Russia would not be taking part in the Paralympics and arguably should have revised their targets.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate the achievements of ParalympicsGB at all – they have been brilliant – but I think a true measure of success would be whether they can hit 145-150-plus medals.”

Hat-trick for Cockroft

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Yorkshirewoman Hannah Cockcroft has now won five gold medals from two Paralympics

Cockroft, who won her third gold medal at the Rio Paralympics, said she was “stunned” with her performance in the 800m.

“It’s ridiculous that, isn’t it? I honestly didn’t believe I could do it,” said the 24-year-old from Halifax.

“I just thought Kare’s on the inside and Alexa Halko’s there, I thought I could sit on the back of them. No-one turned up, and I had to do it myself. I just kept going. I’ve never gone that fast on my own. I’m pretty stunned.

Adenegan, 15, who now has two bronze medals and a silver, added: “It’s amazing. Out of all the events I was nervous about the 800m. It was an amazing race. I worked hard, kept strong and finished strong. I’ve got three medals, I’m so, so happy.”

Pearson aggrieved by team decision

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Lee Pearson won his 11th career Paralympic gold, on board horse Zion

Dressage rider Pearson clinched silver in the individual championship test Grade 1b on Wednesday, but the 42-year-old from Staffordshire was not part of the team that won gold.

He admitted, after Friday’s individual freestyle success, his disappointment at not being part of the group. Pearson was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, meaning his limbs were twisted and have very little muscle.

“I feel like I’ve never let that team down,” said Pearson. “My results this year meant I should’ve been on the team.

“It’s just three old ladies’ decision, but it affects your life, it affects your sponsors, it affects your confidence.

“Today made me realise I can do it individually.”

Pearson scored 77.400% in Friday’s final, finishing ahead of Austria’s Pepo Puch, who beat him on Wednesday. The tally of 11 golds saw the rider draw level with wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and swimmer David Roberts.

Christiansen, who became the first Briton to win three Paralympic golds in Rio, paid tribute to veteran Dunham after beating her in the grade 1a freestyle event.

“I remember when I was 13 and started out in the sport. She was always this top rider that I thought I would never beat.

“It’s thanks to Anne that I’m as good as I am now.”

Baker collected her fifth career Paralympic title with gold on mount Cabral in the grade II freestyle event.

The force is strong with Blake

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Blake will look to add 800m gold to his victory in the 400m

Blake, who is aiming to add the T36 800m title on Saturday, said he vomited after winning his first Paralympic gold, the third of his career.

“I was sick everywhere. I guess it was just the nerves,” he said.

“Because I was so late on in the competition and seeing everybody else do so well, I just wanted to get going and I got a bit over-excited.”

His father Paul played the bounty hunter Greedo in the original Star Wars film, and Blake added: “He does a few audio books for the BBC and still does conventions all over the world because there are geeks left, right and centre that love Star Wars.”

There was no indication from the Dorchester-born athlete whether he favoured the Jedi or Dark Side.

World record is icing on GB’s cake

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GB’s Alice Tai cheers on her team-mates in the relay final

ParalympicsGB’s historic day ended with a world record in the pool.

The quartet of Alice Tai, Claire Cashmore, Steph Slater and Steph Millward stormed to the 4x100m medley 34 points title in a world record time of four minutes 45.23 seconds.

The 34 points are made up of the classification numbers of each swimmer.

Cashmore, 28, who finally won a Paralympic gold on her fourth attempt, said: “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. That last leg I was screaming so hard. It was a great team. “

‘We had our backsides kicked’

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GB only scored four points in the first 10 minutes of the contest

It rained gold, silver and bronze for Great Britain but not on the basketball court as the women’s wheelchair team were thrashed 76-34 by Netherlands in the bronze-medal match.

Nevertheless, it was best finish for the women’s team at the Paralympics.

“It’s a brutal result in our first-ever medal match at the Paralympics,” he said. “We got our backsides kicked and we have to accept it, absorb it, learn from it and move on from it.”

Five again for Boki

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Belarus swimmer Ihar Boki repeated his achievement in London by winning a fifth gold medal, this time in the S13 100m freestyle

‘Hero’ Zanardi adds a fourth title

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“His attitude to disability is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before”

Those who caught the clip of The Last Leg presenter Alex Brooker talking about his heartfelt admiration for paracylist Alex Zanardi would have been moved by what they heard.

Italian Zanardi lost portions of both his legs in a Cart championship accident in 2001 and eventually took up handcycling. Having won two golds in London 2012, the 49-year-old secured his third Paralympics title on Thursday and then helped Italy win the mixed team relay on Friday.

Brooker told the Channel 4 programme on Thursday: “The great thing about Alex is not that he’s a world-class hand-cyclist, but his attitude to disability is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.

“I’ve been disabled all my life and I’ve complained about it when I wanted. I come on here celebrating my disability and I’m confident, but I’ll never fully be completely OK with it.

“Able-bodied people at home will watch the Paralympic Games and be inspired by it – but as a disabled man, he inspires me.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/37387678