By Mariya Abedi
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Paralympic Triathlon was one for the history books out in Fort Copacabana. Three American women swept the podium in the first-ever Triathlon in the Paralympic Games.
Grace Norman claimed the first-ever gold medal in the women’s PT4 classification, and then Allysa Seely, Hailey Danisewicz and Melissa Stockwell took the gold, silver and bronze in the women’s PT2 classification.
The women were ecstatic, cheering and hugging as they stood on the podium receiving their medals.
The course included a 750-meter swimming portion, a 20-kilometer bike segment and a 5-kilometer run. Seely finished on top with a time of 1:22:55 seconds, with Stockwell three minutes behind her.
The track was on fire in Olympic Stadium, with the U.S. bringing home seven medals in one night!
David Brown and guide Jerome Avery hit the pavement in the men’s 100-meter, breaking away from the crowd and winning the gold at 10.99. They beat Brazil’s Felipe Gomes by a mere nine seconds in the blind race.
“Coming across the finishing line it just confirmed to me that, hey, I am the best, and here’s the medal to prove it,” Brown said confidently. I’m a Paralympic champion.”
Track and field powerhouse Tatyana McFadden continued to rack up her medals, winning her second Paralympic gold medal in the women’s 400-meter T54. Teammate Cheri Becerra-Madsen was right behind her and won the silver.
“Today I won with my heart. I ran for America. It’s September 11 so I ran for the folks back at home and thoughts and prayers for those affected,” McFadden said.“I honor my country today with a gold medal.”
And Deja Young put her all into the women’s 100-meter T47, earning another gold medal for Team USA. The 20-year-old only got into Para-athletics a year ago, when a fellow athlete mentioned she should give it a try.
Rounding out the athletics medals are Kym Crosby with a bronze in the women’s 100-meter in the T13 category and Cassie Mitchell with a bronze in the women’s club throw.
And in swimming, it was team USA’s Colleen Young who came away with a bronze medal in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke SB13* category. It was the 18-year-old swimmer’s first Paralympic win, and it was the 13th medal the U.S. Swimming team has won in four days.
Jessica Long had a disappointing loss in the women’s 100m freestyle. While Long had the best qualifying time during the heat, she was unable to medal. She came in fourth, just 0.56 seconds short of the bronze. But Long still has several races left in the next week including the 100-meter backstroke, 50-meter freestyle and 200-meter individual medley.
Meanwhile, at Lagoa Stadium, the weather conditions were nearly perfect for rowing: clear skies and zero wind.
Great Britain dominated three of the four events, winning gold. Team USA walked away with a silver medal in the LTA Mixed Coxed Four category, maintaining their stride throughout the race and keeping the Canada team at bay.
“It’s a bit of mixed emotions,” the 28-year-old said after the race. “I’m obviously really proud that we came in second place representing the U.S., but I’m also disappointed that we didn’t come in first.”
Back in the 2012 London Paralympics, the team had come in sixth place and Great Britain had won the gold then too.
Team USA’s wheelchair tennis, Nick Taylor and David Wagner were the only ones to win their match. They played against Israel in the quad doubles, winning by 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals. The duo is gearing up for the finals.
“We have a target on our backs. You don’t win them all. We know that coming in,” Wagner said. “We’re ready and do our best every time we step on the courts.”
And in women’s goalball, the U.S. team put up a good fight against Japan and came out ahead with a 5-3 win. They’ll be taking on Israel on Tuesday at 8 a.m. Eastern Stand Time. The men’s team also won. They played Finland and scored 6-2.
And in wheelchair basketball, both divisions inch closer to quarterfinals with their wins.
The U.S. women’s team held off the Netherlands by winning 60-50. The European team did put up a good fight, but couldn’t catch up with the U.S. after the women took the lead early on in the first quarter.
And the men’s team held on to their perfect record this Paralympic Games, beating Algeria 92-24. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 27-4, and Algeria wasn’t able to come back.
The men take on Great Britain, the last game leading into the quarterfinals. The last time the two teams faced off, the U.S. had won 61-46.