Madison de Rozario’s 800m gold snaps Australian Paralympics silver streak
Madison de Rozario’s personalised Barbie doll needs a gold medal upgrade. The 27-year-old won Australia’s first track and field gold at the Tokyo Games and ended her long quest for a Paralympic title when she dominated the final of the T53 800m on Sunday at the Olympic Stadium.
Australia is eighth on the medal tally after day five with eight gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze.
Last year, de Rozario was among several top sportswomen to have a Barbie doll modelled on them. Asked if hers could be released again with a gold medal, de Rozario replied: “I wouldn’t say no to that. It’s one of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid.
“I feel like you have a list of things you want to do in your life and being a Barbie doll isn’t even on the list it’s that absurd.”
But until Sunday, de Rozario had to settle for Paralympic silver. The four-time Paralympian had won three silver medals and was fifth two days ago in the T54 5000m.
This time, de Rozario executed a perfect race and clocked one minute 45.99 seconds, breaking the Paralympic record. She beat China’s Zhou Hongzhuan by 1.67 seconds, with Swiss Catherine Debrunner taking the bronze.
Six-time Paralympian Angie Ballard finished seventh and legendary wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage, who coaches de Rozario, was also trackside. “They [Ballard and Sauvage] are two women who have been there every single point of my career, but also of my life,” de Rozario told the Seven Network. “I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without them here.”
Also on Sunday night at the track, sprinter Isis Holt won her second Tokyo silver in the T35 200m, with Zhou Xia of China breaking her own world record for the gold. Zhou clocked 27.17 seconds and Holt set an area record of 27.94.
Top seeds Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson will defend their quad doubles Paralympic title, beating Japan’s Mitsuteru Moroishi and and Koji Sugeno 6-2 6-4 in their semi-final.
At the pool, Jake Michel had a near-perfect Games debut when he was narrowly beaten in the final of the SB14 100m breaststroke. Japan’s Naohide Yamaguchi broke his own world record to take the gold medal.
Ellie Cole, Isabella Vincent, Emily Beecroft and Ashleigh McConnell took silver in the 34 points 4x100m freestyle relay behind Italy. Sam Von Einem won his second straight Games table tennis silver medal, losing 3-2 to world No.1 Hungarian Peter Palos in the Class 11 gold medal match.
But the Steelers’ campaign for a third straight Paralympics gold medal ended in disaster with a 60-52 torching from Japan in their bronze medal game. It is first time since Athens 2004 that the Steelers have not won a Paralympics medal.
“It’s been a fairly upsetting week,” said captain Ryley Batt. “We knew we were up for some challenges [but] our results haven’t been the best. For once we can watch a gold medal game.
“It’s going to hurt watching every other team receive a medal and not us, but that’s just what happens when you’re not the best. We’ve still got a future, it’s not over. It’s just another three years away (to the Paris Paralympics).”
Great Britain won wheelchair rugby gold after beating the USA 54-49.
Earlier on Sunday, Lauren Parker lost her PTWC triathlon by just 0.01 of a second for the silver medal, with American Kendall Gretsch overtaking the Australian within metres of the finish.
Erik Horrie made history as the first Paralympic rower to win three medals after adding a men’s single sculls silver to the silvers he claimed in London and Rio.
The 41-year-old Sydney father of three, who had long been chasing gold, acknowledged a silver lining to being beaten at a third consecutive Games.
“I guess my kids won’t be arguing who gets what medal,” Horrie said. “I’ve got the three kids and now there’s a silver each. This one means a little bit more to me because it’s my son’s [Luigi] ninth birthday today.
Also in track and field, 45-year-old grandmother Sarah Edmiston took bronze in the F64 discus and fellow West Australian athlete Robyn Lambird also won bronze in the T34 100m. The Rollers’ unbeaten start to the Games ended on Sunday when the United States thumped them 66-38 in wheelchair basketball. But the Belles won again in women’s goalball, beating the Russians 4-1.