Australia’s Para-swimmers are toasting Commonwealth silver and bronze on day one of competition, with Rio 2016 Paralympians Liam Schluter and Daniel Fox both finishing the S14 200m freestyle with placings on the podium.
As one of the premier events on the Para-swimming program at the Commonwealth Games, Australia was represented by three Paralympians in the race for athletes with an intellectual impairment. The trio of Australians included Fox, Schluter and London 2012 Paralympian Mitchell Kilduff.
While Fox was front and centre, as the defending champion from Glasgow 2014 and the number one qualifier at that morning’s heat, it was England’s Thomas Hamer, who surged forward to gold in a world record time of 1:55.88. He was closely followed by Schluter (1:56.23) and Fox nearly two seconds behind at 1:58.26.
Impressive in second place, Schluter was in shock of his result despite leading the Australian rankings in the event just last year.
“It feels amazing, I’m still shaking right now. It’s awesome,” he said just minutes after touching the wall second.
“All my hard work has paid off, all the hard work that went into this race. I want to thank Michael Sage, my coach back home, Harley (Connelly, his Australian team coach) and my team for supporting me out there.”
He also credited his family and the roaring home crowd which got him excited to race.
“I’ve got mum and dad up in the grandstand, my sister, my sister’s friend and a few family from Toowoomba.”
Although Fox stepped down two places from the last Commonwealth Games, he too was pleased with his finish, after a training overhaul that took place following the Rio Games.
“I’m just happy I came away with something and that was pretty much my aim. Me and my coach Nathan Doyle, we’ve been working all the way up to this meet. We’ve had some up and downs having changed clubs, but we’re getting there now clearly and it’s just great.”
Just as thrilled with his bronze medal win, Fox was thrilled to be performing in front of a home crowd as well as his entire family.
“The whole of Team Fox is out there. There’s about 30 or 40 of them out there, all wearing the same shirt. It’s amazing just walking out and hearing the crowd and hearing them scream. It gets you going.”
While the silver and bronze were some of the first medals for Australia’s Para-athletes at the Commonwealth Games, Kilduff was just shy of adding a medal to the tally in the same event.
Mitchell Kilduff placed fourth in a time of 1:59.55. Although his placing was one spot lower than the morning’s heat, his time was faster than the 2:01.02 he posted to qualify third for the final.
In other results for the evening, teenage Para-swimming sensation Tiffany Thomas Kane placed fourth in the S7 50m freestyle.
The Commonwealth Games Swimming competition will continue this evening, with Paralympic champion Ellie Cole taking to the pool for the S9 100m backstroke, along with fellow Australians Ashleigh McConnell and Madeleine Scott.
By APC Media