By Mariya Abedi and Orge Castellano
The lights were shining bright at Olympic Stadium, where Team USA’s track and field team won seven medals, including a podium sweep by the U.S. women’s athletic team.
Star-athlete Tatyana McFadden added another gold medal to her collection with a time of 3:22.50 in the 1500-meter wheelchair T54 classification. It’s her 13th Paralympic-career medal. Teammates Amanda McGrory (silver) and Chelsea McClammer (bronze) finished milliseconds apart.
“Clean sweep. That was the plan,” said McGrory. “We talked about it before the start.”
It was the second podium sweep by the Americans just days apart; three American women took home the gold, silver and bronze in the first-ever Paralympics triathlon.
Earlier in the day, teammates Martin Raymond and Iannotta Gianfranco both medaled again in the same event – for the second time this Paralympic Games. Raymond took the gold in the 400-meter T52, while Gianfranco earned the bronze.
The training partners and friends had medaled in the men’s 100-meter wheelchair T52 race on Friday; Gianfranco won gold that time around.
And 19-year-old Michael Brannigan surpassed all expectations, winning gold in the 1500-meter race with a time of 3:51.73, a good 5 seconds before the silver medalist.
“I did what I had to do to represent Team USA and left it all on the track in Rio,” the autistic teen said about his first Paralympic appearance.
Team USA’s Breanna Clark won the last gold medal of the night in the 400-meter T20 race with a time of 57.79.
Meanwhile, the U.S. swimming team continued their streak from Monday by winning six medals, bringing the total medal count to 24 for the sport.
Michelle Konkoly brought home the only gold for the night in the women’s 50-meter freestyle, setting a new Paralympic record with a time of 28.29.
“The 50 (freestyle) is anybody’s race so I just had to go into it and give it the best I had,” Konkoly said.
And Jessica Long won the 21st medal of her Paralympic career, earning a bronze in the women’s 100-meter backstroke S8 in a time of 1:18.12.
Other swimming medalists include:
- Rudy Garcia-Tolson (silver) in the men’s 200-meter individual medley SM7 at 2:33.87.
- Tharon Drake (silver) in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke SB11 at 1:11.50.
- Jessica Long (bronze) in the women’s 100-meter backstroke S8 at 1:18.12.
- Cortney Jordan (bronze) in the women’s 200-meter individual medley at 3:04.17.
- Robert Griswold (bronze) in the men’s 100-meter backstroke S8 at 1:04.68.
In wheelchair tennis, Team USA claimed silver after Nick Taylor and David Wagner played an intense and fast-paced match in the quad doubles against the Australians Alcott Dylan and Heath Davidson.
However, in the end they couldn’t keep up with the strokes played by their opponents in the sets. The three-time Paralympic champions, who have never lost a game in their career, were disappointed by their defeat and said they weren’t sure if they’d compete in Tokyo 2020.
“We’ve got to see what happens with the players that we’re having to play against,” Wagner said. “If changes are made, then perhaps. If there are no changes made, then I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
And it was a historical moment at the shooting arena in Rio, where McKenna Dahl won the first-ever medal by a U.S. woman athlete in shooting. The 20 year old earned a bronze in the R5 mixed 10-meter air rifle event, with a score of 635.4 and beating seven other contestants.
Team USA’s women’s basketball team remains undefeated after winning against Brazil in the quarterfinal with a score of 66-35.
The U.S. team took control of the court early on, ending the first quarter 21-4. Brazil worked hard the rest of the game, but they weren’t able to take the lead.
They advance on to the semifinals against Great Britain.
Wheelchair fencer Lauryn Deluca, who was a top-eight finisher at the 2015 Junior World Championship, was unable to overtake her opponents at the Carioca 3 Arena.
She lost four out of five plays in the women’s category A, Épeé preliminaries. The 17 year old had one win (5-4) against the Polish Renata Burdon but unfortunately did not qualify to the finals.
Meanwhile, Team USA took it away in women’s goalball, winning against Israel 7-3. The first half started out strong for both teams, with the score at 2-2 at half-time. But Asya Miller went on the offensive in the second half, scoring all three points for the U.S. team. Israel was able to gain one point but just couldn’t close the gap.
But it was a different story for the men’s sitting volleyball team. They lost their third game in a row but this time to Egypt, who left the U.S. scoreless at 3-0.