Pascoe wins gold at Paralympics
Princess of the pool Sophie Pascoe has defended her S10 200 metres individual medley Paralympic title with a crushing win by more than six seconds in this morning's final in London.
The 19-year-old from Christchurch broke the world record in her heat overnight and then smashed it by a further 3sec in the final as she easily defended the Paralympic crown she won at Beijing four years ago by blitzing the competition at the Olympic Park aquatic complex.
It provides the New Zealand team with a magnificent start to the Games. Four athletes were in action on the opening day of competition and they have returned two medals, Pascoe's gold and a bronze to Northland cyclist Fiona Southorn.
''It was quite unexpected,'' Pascoe said of her double world record-breaking achievements.
''I wanted to leave more in the tank for tonight. I would have been happy with a 27, but a 25 - I'm absolutely stoked.
''I did all the hard yards before I came here and that's exactly what I wanted to go out and do.''
Winning the country's first gold of the Games was special, she said.
''We came here to do the job. We've got a team of  athletes and we're all striving to do personal bests. That's what I came here to do, but to get on the podium is special,'' she said.
Pascoe, a below-the-knee amputee, emerged from the Beijing Games with three gold medals and a silver as the then 15-year-old announced herself on the world stage.
She has been rapidly improving physically and mentally during the past four years and the evidence was there for everyone to see in London today.
She qualified fastest with a world record time of 2:28.73 in her her morning heat, 0.62sec quicker than the previous best mark, but then went more than 3sec quicker with a time of 2:25.65 in the final.
Canada's Summer Ashley Mortimer was second, 6.43sec back, with China's Meng Zhang third.
After her heat, where she was rewarded for recent work on the breaststroke leg, Pascoe said: ''I wanted to go out this morning, feel nice and calm and relaxed, and hitting a 28 was perfect.
''I've definitely been working on the breaststroke for the past year. The field for breaststroke is just incredible now, so it was something we wanted to work on, along with the fresstyle.''
Southorn had the distinction of winning New Zealand's first medal of the London Games with a bronze in the C5 women's individual pursuit.
The 44-year-old, competing in her third Games, finished behind gold-medal winner Sarah Storey, of Britain, and Poland's silver medallist, Anna Harkowska.
Southorn, who does not have a left hand, beat Britain's Crystal Lane by just under 7sec in the bronze medal ride-off for her first Paralympic medal.
In other New Zealand results, Auckland swimmer Rebecca Dubber, 19, finished fifth in the S7 100m backstroke final after qualifying as fourth fastest in her Paralympics debut, while Taranaki cyclist Nathan Smith, 37, was 23rd in the C1-3 men's kilo.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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