Paralympic champion Tim Disken has strengthened his reign in the S9 100m freestyle, winning Australia’s first Para-sport gold medal of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Disken also extended Australia’s reign in the event by following the footsteps of fellow Australian Rowan Crothers who claimed the title in Glasgow 2014.
The Victorian soared through the water over the final 30 metres to finish in a time of 56.07 – more than one second in front of England’s Lewis White, and 1.83 seconds in front of Australian Brenden Hall, who claimed bronze.
The AIS based athlete, who claimed Paralympic glory in the same event in Rio pushed himself through some tough competition, leaning on the home crowd cheering for extra motivation.
He was in second place at the turn but dug deep.
“Noting beats a home crowd and that last 30 metres, my body was screaming at me to give in and give up, but that crowd lifted me to another level and enabled me to get the job done. It was awesome,” Disken said.
“It’s amazing to have 10,000 Aussies in the stands screaming out your name. Rio was something special, but winning in front of a home crowd and singing the national anthem in front of them is something else.”
While it was smiles for Disken, bronze medallist Hall was hoping the race would replicate the quinella the pair achieved together in Rio 18 months ago.
“I had a good start but I couldn’t hold onto it. I’m slightly disappointed but to come away with a bronze medal in front of a home crowd, I’m very lucky,” Hall said.
“And to be on the podium again with Tim, I’m so happy. And I’m ecstatic for him.”
Sydney teenager Timothy Hodge narrowly missed out on a podium finish in fourth place.
A trio of Australian Paralympians also competed in the women’s S9 100m backstroke tonight; six-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Cole and Rio Paralympians Ashleigh McConnell and Madeleine Scott.
While Cole was a raging hot favourite, having won back-to-back gold medals in the event at London 2012 and Rio 2016, she was unable to extend her reign to the Commonwealth Games. She wasa trumped by England star Alice Tai claiming the title in 1:08.77 – more than two seconds in front of Cole.
“I really like being an underdog in a race, and that definitely happened in the final today. It’s a great learning and I can use that race in training and I’ll be a better athlete next time I race this event.
“I was really looking for a PB in that race, which didn’t happen but to swim in front of my family doesn’t happen very often, so I’m happy they get to see me win silver at the Commonwealth Games.”
McConnell, who admitted to be an outside chance for a medal going in, was thrilled with her bronze medal win tonight, after she took more than four seconds off her heat time.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe it. I’ve only really recently started concentrating on backstroke, so I can’t believe I had such an amazing time,” she said of the 1:15.93 she clocked.
“I really recovered today and I really focussed on my own race. I spent time watching my own race from this morning and I knew the things I did wrong and focussed on correcting them.”
Scott placed fourth in a time of 1:16.12.
Day three of swimming will feature two Para-swimming events including the men’s SB8 100m breaststroke, and the women’s SM10 200m individual medley.
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By CGA, SAL, APC Media
Image: Delly Carr – Swimming Australia