Published: Aug 31, 2012 05:43:55 AM Updated: Nov 13, 2012 12:10:42 PM
A three-time bronze medallist in Beijing, Jacqueline Freney has opened Australia’s gold medal account for the 2012 Paralympic Games at the London Aquatic Centre, while Matthew Cowdrey has started with a silver medal in his least favoured event the 100m butterfly.
Kicking off the Aussie medal tally in the pool in golden fashion, Freney put in a commanding display in the women’s 100m backstroke (S7) to suggest she will be a force to watch in her eight events over the next nine days.
The 20-year-old Queenslander turned second at the 50m mark behind world record holder Kirsten Bruhn from Germany, only to storm home over the last lap, to win by almost three seconds in another Paralympic Record time of 1:22.84, backing up from this morning’s 1:23.34.
“I went into the backstroke thinking that I would just make the final and I came up with a gold medal so I’m just stoked, I’m really happy,” said Freney.
“I can basically go out at the same pace in the first half of the 100m back and come back faster because I’m a 400m freestyle swimmer and have that endurance behind me, which others don’t seem to have, because they are more sprinters, so that was just my plan.”
Freney dropped more than three seconds off her previous best in the event in a single day, and will now focus on her next of eight events the 50m butterfly tomorrow morning.
“I was only 16 in Beijing and didn’t really know what to expect, but this time I’ve gone through the motions and I know what to expect and I’m focused and confident in my own ability this time around and not living in other people’s shadows.”
A gold medallist in the same event in Beijing, Katrina Porter finished seventh overall in 1:26.64, more than a second quicker than her heat swim this morning.
Swimming in his least favoured event, the men’s 100m butterfly (S9) Matt Cowdrey ‘jagged’ a silver medal in his own words, and broke the minute barrier for the first time in a textile suit to extend his total number of Paralympic medals to 16.
Starting his Beijing campaign with a silver medal as well, Cowdrey said maybe it’s a sign of things to come as he attempts to become the most successful Australian Paralympic swimmer of all-time.
“I definitely hope we can continue in that sort of fashion and it would be fantastic to see if that could happen, but we’ve got to re-focus again now and try and get down from this high back for the 100m backstroke tomorrow morning.”
Cowdrey’s teammate Brenden Hall finished sixth in the race overall with a time of 1:01.31 and will now focus on his main event the men’s 400m freestyle.
Rick Pendleton won Australia’s third medal of the night in the men’s 200m IM (SM10) taking bronze in a time of 2:14.77. The 27-year-old Queenslander had to chase down a world record swim from Canadian Benoit Huot (2:10.01) to finish on the dais, adding to his gold medal in the same event from Beijing.
In the women’s 100m butterfly (S9) Ellie Cole was just touched out of a medal in a fantastic performance from lane 8. A silver medallist in the same event in Beijing, Cole finished in 1:10.40, just 0.3 of a second away from bronze with South Africa’s Natalie Du Toit winning in 1:09.30.
Kat Downie also had to settle for fourth in the women’s 200m IM finishing in a time of 2:34.64. Swimming at her first Paralympic Games, Downie was less than a second off bronze, with New Zealander Sophie Pascoe taking gold in a world record time of 2:25.65.
The final of the women’s 100m butterfly (S8) saw Maddison Elliott finish sixth overall in a time of 1:15.06. Having dropped nearly five seconds off her best this morning, the 13-year-old shaved another 0.24 from her best with another seven events to come this meet.
In the final of the men’s 100m backstroke (S6) Matthew Haanappel swam a new personal best time of 1:21.25 to finish fifth while Aaron Rhind finished eighth overall in 1:29.28. Swimming at his first Paralympic Games and starting with a PB in the first of five events Haanappel said he was really happy with his first hit out in front of such a big crowd.
“It was my first Paralympic final and I was just really happy to get out there and perform well. That’s a 0.6 of a second PB for me which has taken some three years so it’s a really good start.
The final event of the night saw Queenslander Grant Patterson finish 8th overall in the men’s 50m breaststroke (SB2) in 1:07.52. Patterson will now focus on his main event the 150m IM.
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