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26.08.2021 Cycling

Paralympics Day 2: first gold for France as Léauté wins cycle pursuit

By Michael Fitzpatrick - RFI
REUTERS - THOMAS PETER
LISTEN AUG 26, 2021
REUTERS - THOMAS PETER

Track cyclist Alexandre Léauté took gold in the men's 3,000m indivual pursuit, bringing the overall French medal tally to three. And the youngest competitor in Tokyo, 14-year-old Ugandan swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe, says she hopes she can help change attitudes towards disability in Africa.

Alexandre Léauté got the second day of the Tokyo Paralympics off to a great start for France.

Not only did he beat Australian Darren Hicks, world champion in 2019, to win the gold medal, Léauté set a new world record of 3 minutes, 31 seconds on his way to clinching the decider.

Alexandre Léauté will have another chance on Friday when he competes in the one kilometre race, an event in which he currectly holds the world title.

Ugandan teen swims to change attitudes

Meanwhile, teenage Ugandan swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe said she felt like she could "touch the clouds" after making her Paralympic debut on Thursday -- saying she hopes her presence at the Games will help change attitudes towards disability in Africa.

Fourteen-year-old Kukundakwe, the youngest athlete at the Tokyo Games, swam in the women's SB8 100m breaststroke, finishing sixth in her heat.

The Games are being shown on free-to-air broadcast in 49 African territories thanks to an International Paralympic Committee initiative, and Kukundakwe hopes her race could have a positive effect.

"Africa in general will learn that people with disabilities are just like normal people, and they need to do whatever they want to do," she said.

"I feel like I could even touch the clouds because I'm the youngest here, and just seeing how the others are doing and swimming with them is such an amazing experience."

Kukundakwe said babies born with disabilities in Uganda are often abandoned by their parents, and she hoped the Paralympics would make them realise "the choice they made was really bad".

"Maybe giving these kids a chance, when they see that they're different from other people and they realise that they want to do something, sport can help them raise their confidence," she said.

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