Historic Medal day for Paracanoe Athletes at Paralympic Games in Rio 2016
The first ever Paracanoe medals would be decided today at the Paralympic Games in Rio. The weather conditions were perfect for Paracanoe racing over 200m and the sell out crowd were vocal and passionate for this new addition to the Paralympic Games.
Women’s KL1 Final
The first final of the day saw a close tussle between Jeanette Chippington (GBR) and Edina Muller (GER). Chippington took the gold medal on the line from the German in a pulsating finish. Kamila Kubas (POL) achieved bronze medal followed by Katherine Wollermann (CHI) with an impressive fourth place finish.
The ICF caught up with Chippington after her gold medal race, “I just can’t believe it, when I crossed the line and the German girl screamed like she won I thought ‘God she got me just at the line’ and I still can’t actually believe it that I am getting the gold medal. I got my last Paralympic medal eleven years ago, I changed sport, just trying something different and enjoying what I do and it’s something that’s achievable and I keep saying that to my kids. I feel absolutely thrilled”.
Men’s KL1 Final
Poland would pick up their second medal in consecutive races with Jakub Tokarz taking Gold medal just pipping Robert Suba (HUN) in another very close race with a winning time of 53.288 seconds. Ian Marsden (GBR) kept Carlos Cardosa (BRA) out of the medals by taking third place.
Tokarz reflected after the race “I feel satisfaction that I made a good race. Yesterday my situation was bad, I was not in a good place, there was a strong head wind, I though that I lost everything and I thought I will finish sixth or seven position. My coach helped me saying ‘you have to be like a bull and go straight ahead regardless’ so, today I am a Polish bull!”.
Women’s KL2 Final
Emma Wiggs (GBR) led a fantastic race to take Great Britain’s second gold medal of the day. She was closely followed over the line by Natalia Lagutenko (UKR) in front of a noisy crowd. Australia’s Susan Seipel crossed the line in a close third place.
Wiggs told the ICF, “I am just incredibly overwhelming and so proud of the team and I just think that it’s a massive achievement for us. I’m just blown away by how professional and world class we are and how we’ve done it. Since 1999 when disability changed my life for all the wrong reasons, sport has changed it for right reasons. I am just blown away by my family support and all my friends and I can’t just find a way to thank them enough really.”
Men’s KL2 Final
Curtis McGrath started paddling in the Va’a boat at ICF events but when IPC confirmed only Kayak events he had to change boats to Kayak in order to be at the Paralympic Games. Well McGrath showed his superior paddling skills by taking the gold medal in the KL2 event with a fantastic performance. Markus Swoboda (AUT) picked up a silver medal with an impressive 200m race. Nick Beighton (GBR) had been in rowing at London 2012 Paralympic Games finishing fourth. A change of sports has meant he picked up a much coveted medal in the form of bronze in canoeing.
McGarth reflecting after the race said “I went over the race in my head first and said ok I just did that and it actually happened. It’s a kind of sense of relief and at the same time celebration of what I’ve achieved. I was very nervous, I was pushed all the way by Markus. It’s a great feeling to see how many good athletes we have and I hope that the sport can grow even more and push us to go even faster – it’s a new sport so everyone can get on board. This gold is for me and all the supporters that got me here.”
Women’s KL3 Final
A hat trick of gold medals for Great Britain in the female events was accomplished in the form of Anne Dickins who crossed the finish line in a time of 51.348 seconds. She had a hard fight along the two hundred metre course with Amanda Reynolds (AUS) pushing each other all the way. Reynolds would have to settle with the silver medal as Dickens took the finish line. Cindy Moreau (FRA) took a well deserved bronze medal home just keeping Mihaela Lulea (ROU) off the podium.
Dickins in shock after her win stated “I still don’t think that I will ever get used to hearing the word “Paralympic champion” it’s just an amazing end to a fantastic story. Four years ago being a Games maker in London and having this crazy idea that I was going to go to Rio, and now not only I’m in Rio but I’m Paralympic champion! Amazing”.
Men’s KL3 Final
The last race of the day was the fastest of all and the crowd showed their appreciation by adding their loud support to these athletes. Serhii Yemelianov (UKR) managed to win the race beating Tom Kierey (GER) by 0.1 seconds. Caio Ribeiro de Carvalho (BRA) got a thunderous cheer from the partisan crowd when it was announced that he had got the bronze medal. It was a great way to end the Paracanoe racing by having a Brazilian medallist.
Yemelianov spoke after the race saying “I feel wonderful, everything ended up as I planned, all the athletes in the final were very strong and in the last few seconds of the race I gave all. I couldn’t feel my legs and back anymore and I was so tense but I did it. When I saw UKRAINE on the screen I couldn’t believe I had won, I thought it’s a mistake but I was extremely happy when I realised that it’s real!”
So after an amazing and exciting two days the Paracanoe events finish here in Rio. The future looks promising after such a successful debut and hopefully for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games we will see the addition of Va’a competitions to go alongside the very exciting Kayak events. The ICF is very proud of all the athletes, support staff and all those involved in making Paracanoe such a successful event in the Paralympic Games, Rio 2016.