TOKYO, Japan — The night at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre started incredibly well for Team USA, as five more medals, two gold, two silver and one bronze have been added to the results achieved in the past week.
The first medal of the night, a bronze, arrives from Matthew Torres in the men’s 400 meters freestyle, category S8. He finished his race in 4.28.47, behind Andrei Nikolaev and Alberto Amodeo by more than three seconds, and won a medal at his first appearance at the Paralympic Games.
“It was a pretty tiring and long race,” Torres said after his race. “Definitely one of the longer races I’ve felt even though I’ve swum the 400(m) so many times.”
“But it feels good to finally know that all the hard work over the last 13 years has paid off.”
In the same race, the other athlete representing Team USA, Robert Griswold finished in fifth position.
In the women’s 400 meters freestyle, category S8, Team USA won both gold and silver, with Morgan Stickney and Jessica Long.
After leading for three quarters of the race, Long had to concede to her teammate, Stickney, that in the last 100 meters took the lead and won the gold medal. Long finished one second behind and won the silver medal.
“I remember sitting in the hospital just dreaming of being able to go to the Paralympic Games, and then the pandemic happened and it became a reality that I could come here,” said Stickney after winning the gold medal.
“Trying as hard as I could and training in the last year, being able to be here and then to get the gold medal is just such an honour.”
Long was expecting a tough competition in the last meters of the race.
“I knew that I was a first half, 200m swimmer and I felt really good, I definitely had that 300, and I knew Morgan [Stickney] was going to be there in that last 75m,” Long said.
“It never feels good to get touched out but at the same time, with it being a teammate, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I love what’s happening right now with bilaterals, breaking barriers and lowering times in the 400m. I think that’s incredible. I never thought I’d get beat by another bilateral amputee so that was pretty sweet and special, especially it being Morgan, but that was a good race.”
Another silver medal came from McKenzie Coan in the women’s 100 meters freestyle, category S7. The American finished just one second behind the Italian, Giulia Terzi, who set a new Paralympic record in this race.
“Even though I won it in Rio, and I won the 50m in Rio, I still don’t consider myself a sprinter,” Coan said after the race.
“Coming here I’m a bit older and the age and the sprinting might have something to do with it. It is a hard event to maintain excellence in, let me tell you.”
In the same race, two other athletes represented the United States, Mallory Weggemann and Julia Gaffney, who finished in fifth and eight positions, respectively.
The last medal of the day came from Mikaela Jenkins in the women’s 100 meters butterfly, category S10. She won gold in 1.07.52 minutes, ahead of the Australian Jasmine Greenwood, and the Dutch Chantalle Zijderveld.
“I am still trying to find words to describe it. It’s a mix of relief and pure joy and excitement,” she said after her race.
“I kept checking to make sure that [number] 1 was by my name. I didn’t want to celebrate this too early. Once the final results popped up, it was really just ‘thank God’.
For more photos of the event, please check out the galleries at photos.wheelchairsportsfederation.org.