It takes a lot more than luck to win a Paralympic gold medal, and for Lakeisha Patterson, nicknamed ‘Lucky’, all the hard work in preparing for Rio 2016 paid off in world record style on the opening night of competition.
The 17-year-old from Caboolture in Queensland shaved 0.11 of a second off the previous world best held by the USA’s Jessica Long, to win the first gold medal of the Games for Australia, and possibly the first of many for the girl with the golden smile.
Leading from the 100m mark and increasing her advantage at every turn, Patterson hit the wall in a new world’s best of 4.40.33, seven seconds ahead of Long who took silver in 4.47.82, with fellow Aussie Maddison Elliott finishing fourth in in 5.02.13.
Having looked up to Long since coming onto the international scene in 2014, Patterson said it felt a bit bitter sweet to take the record off the 2012 Paralympic champion and her idol.
“It was pretty surreal really. I knew I had to attack and go out hard and keep fighting for it, and I knew she was right behind me, so I just had to keep going forward,” said Patterson.
“Jess is an amazing and fierce competitor, and to be able to race alongside her and get past her was bitter sweet because she has been my idol growing up. So to race alongside her, and end up on top is quite amazing.”
“Jess said she was really proud of me and can’t believe how well I’ve done, and I really appreciated that, it was really nice. To hear those nice words from her really made me feel special.”
Patterson will have little time to celebrate the gold and will be back in the water tomorrow morning to swim the heats of the women’s 100m butterfly, her second of six individual events for the meet.
In other results tonight featuring Australian swimmers, Madeleine Scott was less than a second off the bronze medal position in the women’s SB9 100m breaststroke finishing fourth in 1.17.93 with Paige Leonhardt sixth in 1.20.44.
Tiffany Thomas-Kane finished fifth in her first final of the Games, hitting the wall in 1.32.01 in the, while fellow
The final of the men’s S14 100m backstroke saw Daniel Fox finish sixth in 1.05.16 with Josh Alford eighth in 1.07.77. While in the men’s S8 400m freestyle, Blake Cochrane (4.39.79) and Jesse Aungles (4.48.23) finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Games rookie Braedan Jason finished seventh in his final of the men’s S13 100m butterfly in 1.00.12, while despite hitting the wall in fifth, Tiffany Thomas-Kane was disqualified post race in her women’s S6 100m backstroke for an incorrect turn.