Tokyo 2020 Paralympics briefing: Jansen wins gold, 33 years after her first

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Today in a nutshell: the medal streaks continued for Jetze Plat, Jessica Long, Markus Rehm and Oksana Masters, but Ihar Boki and Leo-Pekka Tähti found that all good things come to an end.

Thursdays’s key moments: there are semi-finals in sitting volleyball, football five-a-side and goalball, China are aiming for a clean sweep of five table tennis finals, the paracanoe begins, and taekwondo makes its Paralympic debut.

Jetze Plat crosses the finish line to win the men’s H4 road cycling race.
Jetze Plat crosses the finish line to win the men’s H4 road cycling race. Photograph: Thomas Lovelock for OIS/PA

Jetze Plat completed his astonishing treble, adding gold in the H4 road race to his Tokyo victories in the triathlon and the time trial. Afterwards he said: “The weather was totally different to what I was expecting. It was actually quite cold on the downhill and tricky on the corners. I almost needed a wetsuit! Three out of three. So many things can happen but I was in the best shape, I didn’t make any mistakes and I deserve the three gold medals.”

Plat’s teammate Jennette Jansen won the H1-4 road race, while Oksana Masters of the US picked up her second gold in two days in the H5 road race. Jansen’s gold comes 33 years after she won a gold at the Seoul 1988 Paralympics. Another big gap between successes today was Karolina Pelendritou of Cyprus – her gold in the 100m breaststroke SB11 comes 13 years after she last won a Paralympic title.

Also unstoppable: Jessica Long. The American swimmer won her fourth medal of these Games and 27th overall with a silver in the women’s 100m breaststroke. She was 0.2 seconds ahead of Australia’s Tiffany Thomas Kane, but Russian Paralympic Committee athlete Mariia Pavlova was absolutely clear for the gold. Long competes again on Friday.

Jessica Long of Team United States reacts after winning the silver medal.
Jessica Long of Team United States reacts after winning the silver medal. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Markus Rehm of Germany secured his fourth Paralympic gold medal in the men’s T64 long jump class with a best jump of 8.18m. He said: “This medal took a lot of effort, we worked five years for that, finally it took place, and I’m just very happy that it does take place, even under different circumstances.”

Markus Rehm speaks to his coach during the men’s long jump T64 final.
Markus Rehm speaks to his coach during the men’s long jump T64 final. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Ihar Boki was stopped though – his bid for a sixth gold medal at these Games ended with a fifth-placed finish in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB13. Taliso Engel took the gold for Germany, and David Abrahams won silver for the US in that race.

Finland’s Leo-Pekka Tähti also had a winning streak end. He was bidding for a fifth consecutive gold in the men’s T54 100m, but had to make do with a silver after 18-year-old Athiwat Paeng-Nuea of Thailand became the first person other than the Finn to win the event since 2000.

Ying Zhang of China, Leo Pekka Tähti of Finland and Athiwat Paeng-Nuea of Thailand in action.
Ying Zhang of China, Leo Pekka Tähti of Finland and Athiwat Paeng-Nuea of Thailand in action. Photograph: Molly Darlington/Reuters

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The briefing’s picture of the day

Brazil, China, the US and Canada were all victorious today in their preliminary pool matches in the sitting volleyball competition.

Brazil in action against Italy in the sitting volleyball today.
Brazil in action against Italy in the sitting volleyball today. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

You can see the best pictures from day eight of the Paralympics in our gallery.

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Team USA update

The US women’s goalball team are through to the semi-finals after beating the team from the Russian Paralympic Committee 5-3. Reigning champions Turkey, Japan and Brazil also all reached the semi-final stage. The US will now play Brazil tomorrow for a shot at the gold.

Lisa Czechowski and Marybai Huking celebrate their victory over Not Russia.
Lisa Czechowski and Marybai Huking celebrate their victory over Not Russia. Photograph: Iván Alvarado/Reuters

The US men’s wheelchair basketball squad also have a semi-final ahead of them, after defeating Turkey 52-45 at the quarter-final stage on Wednesday morning. They will face Spain in the semi-final on Friday. Great Britain and Japan will be the other semi-final.

Trevon Jenifer looks to pass against Turkey in today’s quarter-final.
Trevon Jenifer looks to pass against Turkey in today’s quarter-final. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 ParalympicsGB update

Some people have called him the Lionel Messi of his sport, but David Smith prefers to style himself as the Ronnie O’Sullivan of boccia. His victory in the BC1 gold medal match was ParalympicsGB’s 30th gold medal of the Tokyo Games. There were also boccia golds for Slovakia, the Czech Republic and hosts Japan.

Great Britain’s David Smith competes in the individual BC1 gold medal match.
Great Britain’s David Smith competes in the individual BC1 gold medal match. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

British archer Victoria Rumary won bronze on her Paralympic debut in the W1 women’s individual event courtesy of a 131-123 success against American Lia Coryell. Rumary first took up archery as a 14-year-old, made her international debut six years ago, and came into these games ranked world No 1. The gold was won by Chen Minyi of China.

Victoria Rumary shoots for bronze.
Victoria Rumary shoots for bronze. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The men’s class 8 table tennis team of Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson earned a bronze medal, as did the class 4-5 team of Sue Bailey and Megan Shackleton. And the class 6-7 team of William Bayley and Paul Karabardak will go for gold after beating Spain in their semi-final.

Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid both made it safely through the quarter-finals in the men’s singles wheelchair tennis. If they both win their semi-finals, they will face each other in the gold medal match. And in a relatively quiet day for Britain on the medals front, swimmer Rebecca Redfern won silver in the SB13 100m breaststroke and Sammi Kinghorn won bronze in the wheelchair race T53 100m.

Silver medalist Rebecca Redfern on the podium.
Silver medalist Rebecca Redfern on the podium. Photograph: Marko Đurica/Reuters

🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Australia update

Emma Kemp writes for us today about one very clear disparity in the way Australia treats its athletes with disabilities:

In late July, as soon as Emma McKeon won the first of her four gold medals at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, she was guaranteed a $20,000 bonus. Last week, when another Australian swimmer, Lakeisha Patterson, did the same thing at the same venue, she received nothing. The difference? One was competing at an Olympic Games, and the other a Paralympics.

Read more here: Emma Kemp – Lack of medal bonuses sparks campaign in Australia

🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 The hosts and beyond

Malaysian shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli appeared to have won gold in the shot put in the F20 class yesterday. But he has been disqualified because he had shown up three minutes late for the competition. The disqualification bumps Maksym Koval of Ukraine up to gold, and Ukraine teammate Oleksandr Yarovyi to silver. International Paralympic Committee spokesperson Craig Spence said that on social media the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee “was getting a lot of abuse from Malaysians”.

Natascha Hiltrop during the mixed 10m air rifle prone R3-SH1 final.
Natascha Hiltrop during the mixed 10m air rifle prone R3-SH1 final. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Today’s shooting gold medals went to Natascha Hiltrop of Germany and Dragan Ristic of Serbia in the Asaka Shooting Range. Ukraine picked up a silver and bronze in those events, as they continue to have a great Games, even if their social media manager isn’t enjoying it.

Yiting Shi of China shaved seven hundredths of a second off her own world record when she won the T36 100m women’s final by over a second.

Yiting Shi of China all alone out front in her T36 100m final.
Yiting Shi of China all alone out front in her T36 100m final. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Key events for Thursday 2 August

All events are listed here in local Tokyo time. Add an hour for Sydney, subtract eight hours for Cardiff, 13 hours for New York and 16 hours for San Francisco.

🌟If you only watch one thing: 10am and 5pm Taekwondo – Taekwondo has been part of the Olympic medal programme since the 2000 Games in Sydney, and was a hit from Tokyo for the BBC in the UK this year aided by the calming analysis of Lutalo Muhammad and some nail-biting finishes. It makes its first ever appearance in the Paralympics starting on Thursday, and athletes will compete in six Kyorugi contests for athletes with upper limb impairments. There are three weight classes: -61 kg, -75kg and +75kg for men, -49kg, -58kg and +58kg for women.

  • 9am Badminton – there are group stage match-ups all day long through until 8pm.

  • 9.30am and 7pm Athletics – you’ve got the hang of this by now, a morning session and an evening session and a gazillion* medals to be won. [*18 finals] 🥇

  • 9.30am Road Cycling – essentially the same drill as today, there are five races doing a route that starts and finishes at the F1 track. The women’s C4-5 road race starts at 9.30am where the main question will be if anybody can stop Sarah Storey, with the men’s C1-3 starting at 9.48am. Then at 1pm it is the turn of the T1-2 men’s and women’s races. Then there should be what promises to be a spectacular mixed H1-5 team relay at 3.30pm – it is a new event 🥇

  • 9.30am Paracanoe – it is the first day of Paracanoe at the Sea Forest Waterway. There are no medals today but there’s just over two hours of heats to enjoy.

  • 10am and 5.30pm Archery – it is the women’s individual recurve, with the bronze medal contest at 7.06pm and the final at 7.21pm. Hazel Chaisty goes for Great Britain, Australia have Imalia Oktrininda and the US have Emma Rose Ravish in contention 🥇

  • 10am Table tennis – there are five finals on Thursday, China are in all of them, and if I was a betting man I don’t think I’d back anything other than a Chinese clean sweep 🥇

  • 1.15pm Goalball – both the men’s and women’s competition have their semi-finals on Thursday – the order goes men’s China v US, women’s Turkey v Japan, men’s Lithuania v Brazil, women’s Brazil v US.

  • 3.30pm Shooting – there’s some preamble and qualifications in the morning, but the medals today are in the afternoon with the mixed 25m pistol SH1 final 🥇

  • 4.30pm Football 5-a-side – one of the events at the Paralympics that only has a men’s edition reaches the semi-final stage. Teams consist of a squad of eight visually impaired players, plus two sighted goalkeepers. Brazil are the defending champions and seem unbeatable in Tokyo – they’ve scored 11 and are yet to concede a goal in their opening three matches. They face Morocco at 7.30am. But before that, at 4.30am, China play similarly unbeaten Argentina for the right to fight for the gold on Saturday.

  • 5pm Swimming – as usual there are heats in a morning session that starts at 9am, but the medals are all in the Tokyo evening, with another 15 finals 🥇

  • 6.30pm Sitting volleyball – this competition has reached the men’s semi-final stage. Not Russia play Brazil first. Then it is Iran v Bosnia-Herzegovina.

As it stands

China’s medal factory continues. Honestly, sometimes I think it might be easier just to list the things China haven’t won. Here’s how the emoji table stood at 11pm Tokyo time, anyway:

1 🇨🇳 China 🥇 68 🥈 43 🥉 35 total: 146
2 ◻️ Not Russia 🥇32 🥈 20 🥉 36 total: 88
3 🇬🇧 Great Britain 🥇30 🥈 24 🥉 30 total: 84
4 🇺🇸 USA 🥇 25 🥈 27 🥉 20 total: 72
5 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🥇 18 🥈 10 🥉 10 total: 38
6 🇺🇦 Ukraine 🥇 17 🥈 35 🥉 22 total: 74
7 🇧🇷 Brazil 🥇 15 🥈 12 🥉 20 total: 47
8 🇦🇺 Australia 🥇 13 🥈 22 🥉 24 total: 59
9 🇮🇹 Italy 🥇 12 🥈 18 🥉 16 total: 46
10 🇧🇷 Azerbaijan 🥇 11 🥈 1 🥉 4 total: 16

Get in touch

One of the great things about the Paralympics is how it gives athletes a campaigning platform. In 2016 Taonere Banda was the first ever Paralympian sent to the Games from Malawi. She speaks of how when she was growing up, she wasn’t able to go to school because of the way people treated her for her disability, and then at first how she wasn’t allowed to participate in sport.

She’s already appeared in the 1500m, and is due to compete tomorrow in the women’s 400m T13. A visually impaired athlete, she is currently supporting Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign for disability rights, and I had the chance to ask her a couple of questions about her experience in Tokyo. She said: “I have experienced a lot and I am really enjoying it. It has been totally different from Rio because this time I ran and was not disqualified from my race. So it has been a much better experience. I set my personal record and the record that I have fully participated in the Paralympics. I have been preparing well for this race so I am hoping to run better than I ever have. I did my personal best in the 1500m and I want to do the same in the 400m. I really want to qualify for the finals this time.”

James Chutsi, president of Malawi Paralympics Committee, has said in the past that “In Malawi, we still are a society where there is stigma towards people with disabilities. So by sending the athletes, it’s telling everybody; it’s telling every Malawian that those people with disabilities, as long as they are given an opportunity, will certainly do something in life.”

You can get in touch with me at martin.belam@theguardian.com, and I’d love to hear which of the athletes who have been using Tokyo as a platform to speak out have reached you. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

The last word

Britain’s David Smith poses with his gold medal.
Britain’s David Smith poses with his gold medal. Photograph: Shuji Kajiyama/AP

Why not give it a go? You don’t have to be disabled to play boccia and to be honest the disabled guys would probably kick your arse at the moment. I wouldn’t be a Paralympian without it, because I swim like a brick, I can’t run, I couldn’t throw a club in athletics because I’m in the wrong disability category, so what else is there? What else could I do?
It’s a great sport and that’s quite emotional too – that finally boccia is getting the recognition it deserves – David Smith, ParalympicsGB gold medallist.

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