Evan O’Hanlon has won the T38 100m final at the last three Paralympic Games. But he was unable to keep up the golden theme that has littered his brilliant track career.
In Rio he took silver behind China’s Hu Jianwen (10.74s) clocking 10.98s. It was a season best for O’Hanlon, but Hu took his world record (10.79) set winning the gold in London. O’Hanlon also won the gold in Beijing.
“It’s not the result I wanted but I got beaten by a faster guy on the day,” the 28-year-old said. “There’s not much else I can say other than it’s not my Games I suppose.
“I’d had a bit of an injury – a bit of cramp in the calf before (Monday) heats, just 10 minutes before I was due to race. So that wasn’t great.
“It took a long time to recover after that. It only started to feel good this morning. Then standing on the start line, my tape measure broke that I use to get the right length for my blocks. So I estimated that.
“It seems a calamity of things have happened at these Games.”
To be truthful, the bad luck probably started back before the October world titles last year, which O’Hanlon had to miss with a stress fracture in his lower back. He had to manage it carefully and was only back to full speed in July.
But all athletes can go from ecstasy to agony.
“Yeah definitely. Hopefully I can learn something from it for other areas of life.”
For Rio though, O’Hanlon is done. He intends on withdrawing from the 400m later this week.
“I don’t think my calf is good enough to get me around 400 metres. If I’m not going to be able to win it, I’m not going to be in it.”
O’Hanlon’s medal was the only one from four finals today. It puts Australia at 21st spot on the athletics medal table with 1 gold, 4 silver, 7 bronze for 12.
Madison de Rozario (5th) and Christie Dawes (8th) were up against a top 1500m T54 wheelchair field, headed by a strong USA contingent that went gold (Tatyana McFadden), silver (Amanda McGrory) and bronze (Chelsea McClammer).
“For me the race was a bit messy,” Dawes said. “Plan A didn’t work, Plan B didn’t work so in the end I just had to stay on. I thought I had a sneaky inside lane but that closed shut quickly too.”
In the men’s 1500m T54 final, Kurt Fearnley raced his last individual event on the track at a Paralympic Games, with a 5th placing behind the man who beat him in the 5000m earlier this week, Thailand’s Prawat Wahoram.
“There was not a lot of (racing) etiquette out there tonight. There were a few guys bumping people out of position, which threw a bit of chaos into the mix,” Fearnley said.
“When it comes to a medal some people seem to want to put health and safety to the side and just go for it and that’s a bit of a shame. I should have thrown my elbows around more.”
In Fearnley’s first Paralympics back in Sydney 2000 he came 4th in the 1500m. Today it was 5th and he feels like he’s completed some sort of circle at his fifth – and last – Games.
“It sucks to finish that way but that’s racing. But my first 1500 sixteen years ago was messy too. You have so little control sometimes. At some point you can be the best in the world and then another time, you’re not.
“But I’ve loved very minute of it.”
Fearnley still has the 4x400m relay on Saturday and then the Marathon on Sunday – the last day of competition in Rio.
The 5th placing theme continued in the field events today, with javelin thrower Maddie Hogan finishing 5th in her final, after taking bronze in the event in London.
But in between 2012 and 2016 the 27-year-old has had both her left and right knees reconstructed after tearing her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in both joints.
After taking the gold at the 2011 world championships for her F46 amputee class, she missed the 2013 titles in Lyon and the 2015 in Doha last October.
“The fact I made it on the runway in Rio meant I’d already done better than my last two world championships,” she said after her 39.75 metre throw.
“So being out there today I had heaps of fun. It was good to be able to reflect on the past 10 months and what I’ve been through and how amazing it is I made it back out there.
“I always knew it was going to be a really tough competition. But you still have some hope because anything can happen. Unfortunately none of them had an off day – they performed on the day very well.”
The gold went to Britain’s Hollie Arnold (43.01) who set a new world record; the silver to New Zealand’s Holly Robinson (41.22m) and bronze to Poland’s Kataryna Piekart (41.07m). Only the medallists broke 40 metres.
“I was hoping to hit 40 (metres). I was very, very close but I’m very happy considering. That’s still the furtherest I’ve thrown at a Paralympic Games so I’ve got to be happy with that.”
In other events, 100m silver medallist from Monday night, Rheed McCracken finished second in the 400m heats today to the same athlete who won gold in the sprint, Tunisia’s Walid Ktila.
By the time they raced after midday, the temperature was around 39 degrees on the Rio track in the baking sun and humidity.
“The heat was definitely up there, even though I’m from Australia,” McCracken said.
“I surprised myself a little bit with how I handled the heat and the whole race. Obviously after my 100 metres last night, the recovery has been hard. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.
“So for today I just wanted to get through to the final – I did what I had to do. ”
McCracken’s 1m:46.31s was the third fastest time for Wednesday night’s final. The winner of heat two Mohamed Alhammadi (United Arab Emirates) broke the Paralympic record and will be the man to beat in Wednesday’s final.