Paralympics Day 3: more gold for France as track events take off

By Michael Fitzpatrick - RFI
Cycling  Luc Percival  CPSF
AUG 27, 2021 LISTEN
© ©Luc Percival / CPSF

A total of 45 Paralympic golds were up for grabs on Friday, with a range of sports getting started, including archery, athletics and judo. France kept the medal count ticking over nicely, with gold and silver in cycling, and a silver medal in judo.

Friday started with a second gold medal for France, Dorian Foulon topping the podium in the 4,000m individual cycle pursuit (C5).

Alexandre Léauté added to his personal tally by taking the silver medal in the 1km cycle time trial, knocking 2 seconds off the world record for his class by finishing in 1 minute, 9 seconds and 211 thousandths of a second.

French judoka Sandrine Martinet, double world champion, competing in her final Paralympics, was forced to settle for silver, losing the under-48kg category final to Shahana Hajiyeva of Azerbaijan.

And French sprinter Mandy François-Elie took bronze in the 200m T37.

Huge message of hope, despite defeat

Afghanistan-born swimmer Abbas Karimi has sent a "huge message of hope" despite missing out on a Paralympic medal, the refugee team's chief said Friday.

Karimi, who is one of six athletes representing the Refugee Paralympic Team in Tokyo, had set his sights on becoming the team's first-ever medallist after qualifying for the men's S5 50m butterfly final.

But his hopes were dashed with a last-place finish, leaving him visibly upset as he left the pool without speaking to reporters.

Refugee team chef de mission Ileana Rodriguez said just making the final had been a "great accomplishment".

"I think it sends a huge message of hope," she said.

"We are representing 82 million people who are displaced around the world, and we have 12 million people who have a disability who are refugees. It's a huge message that someone can go this far."

Track and field get off to a blazing start

Brazil's Yeltsin Jacques became the first track gold medallist of the Tokyo Games, squeezing out Japan's Kenya Karasawa to top the podium in the men's 5,000m T11 final.

Jacques, who is visually impaired and runs with a guide, said his win was the culmination of five years of training.

"I have speed, I have energy. I'm naturally fast, it's genetics," added Jacques, who will also contest the 1,500m and marathon in the T11 category.

Fellow Brazilian Silvania Costa de Oliveira meanwhile took the first gold of the field events, successfully defending the title she won in Rio in the women's T11 long jump.

Australia's Steelers steal into rugby semi-final

Elsewhere on Friday, Australia booked their spot in the wheelchair rugby semi-final. 

The defending gold medallists suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Denmark earlier in the week, with team captain Ryley Batt admitting the loss had left his team "pretty embarrassed".

But the Steelers took down France on Thursday in a 50-48 result that rekindled their hopes of a record third consecutive gold medal.

The Australians advance despite a 57-53 loss to Japan.

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