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2012 Paralympics Day 4 - NZ's first gold medal on tthe track

03 Sep 2012
Kiwis can fly, New Zealand's first gold medal on the track
Southland's Philippa Gray and Laura Thompson proved Kiwis can fly in the London Velodrome today, claiming gold in the individual B pursuit and pulverising the former world record by nearly 5 seconds in their qualification ride.

The duo now own the record that had stood since 2009 with a new time of 3:31.50, from 3:36.362 and the old Paralympic record which had stayed put since Athens in 2004.

It’s New Zealand’s first gold on the track in 2012 and the country's first ever gold in the tandem discipline.

Their opponents from Ireland, who are the current world champs, could only manage 3:36.66.

“It’s pretty heavy [the medal], it’s definitely a better colour than bronze and it just feels amazing, I don’t even think it’s sunk in yet,” Gray announced just minutes after the medal ceremony.

“The world record [which they set earlier in the day] doesn’t even feel real yet, nothing feels real, it’s just a dream.”

Seeing the country’s flag hoisted high in the velodrome was one sight Gray says she'll never forget, and now she has a taste, she wants more in the future. “It’s pretty special, a feeling you do want to replicate and keep trying to achieve as well," Gray admitted, indicating positive signs for a repeat in Rio.

Although lost for words to describe how she was feeling with the prize around her neck, Thompson felt like it was a fitting reward for some long hours on the bike. “You talk about it so much, for like 6 months we’ve been talking about it, saying if we do this, if we do that we’ve got potential to get the gold medal, so it’s really nice to actually cross that line and done it, done the work and got the result.”

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Gray cheered as she crossed the finishing line to claim a bronze medal two days ago, but there was little said between the two when they crossed that same line today. Their first emotion was a feeling of exhaustion, “You don’t really have much to let out," said Thompson as she perched next to the cold brick wall to try and cool herself, “those were two pretty hard rides today.” And the quick turnaround from their qualification to the final left little time for anything bar the bare essentials. “By the time you did your warm down, did your ice bath, massage, ate lunch, it was pretty much time to come back to the track again,” explained Thompson.

- Paralympics New Zealand

03 Sep 2012
Day 4 - Update


Southland's Phillipa Gray and Laura Thompson made a mockery of the former world record in the tandem women's pursuit heat this morning, smashing just shy of 5 seconds off the old record, to finish in a time of 3:31.5.

The old record stood at 3:36.36 and was set in 2009 along with the Paralympic record of 3:36.816 which had stayed put since Athens in 2004.

The astonishing effort means they have the chance to ride for New Zealand’s first gold medal at the track in 2012 this afternoon.

Riding at the same time as the current world champs from Ireland, Gray and Thompson stood up to the mark, confident the record was theirs for the taking. “We broke the world record in training in Italy [in the build-up to the games] and we were confident we could do it again,” said Gray, “no one else had gone sub it [world record time] and Laura’s last words to me were we’re all over this Philly, let’s just go and do our thing.”

It was also satisfying for Thompson and Gray to get one back over the Irish after, by their own admission, a less than impressive world champs in Los Angeles last year.

The duo will ride for the gold medal this afternoon against Ireland's Catherine Walsh and Francine Meehan, who they clobbered by 5 seconds in their heat.

Waiuku's Michael Johnson added another bronze medal to the one he won in Beijing this morning. After finishing just outside the medals yesterday, Johnson regained his composure to cement his place on the dais.

After finishing in a tie with Gorazd Francek Tirsek on 704.7 Johnson was forced into a shoot off, where the Russian came through just ahead of Johnson by 0.5.

Johnson went into the final round in first equal after shooting a perfect 600 in the qualifier earlier today.

“I went in feeling pretty confident, shot a couple of good rounds and then just one slightly bad one, but thought I just have to push on, and I did, I came away with the bronze," explained a very happy Johnson.

“Although you want that gold or silver I must admit I’m pretty ecstatic getting the bronze, it’s an unbelievable feeling getting a medal, especially as shooting is a sport that just one single lack in concentration can mean you’re in the medals or out of them.”

Danny McBride stole the show in the B final of the .. Single Sculls at Eaton Dorney, finishing in first place.

McBride latched onto a gear malfunction by the Spanish rower, to slide from second to take the chequered flag.

“Danny’s delighted with the win” said Coach Norm Charlton. “That’s everyones worst nightmare, having a strap like that break” he went on to say, “that’s why we carry two brand new ones to events like this.”

The breakage was a chest strap, pivitol to being able to scull correctly in this classification.

Tim Prendergast qualified for the 1500m final, running a 3:57.39 in the heat today.

Big night in the pool with Paralympic records to Mary Fisher in the 100m Backstroke and Cameron Leslie in the 150m IM.

Aine Kelly Costello is also through to the final of the backstroke qualifying in 6th.

13 year old Nikita Howarth is through to her first final at the games in the 200m IM qualifying 5th fastest.

- Paralympics New Zealand


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