Published: Sep 9, 2012 06:26:42 AM Updated: Oct 31, 2012 12:04:37 PM
Australia has won 18 swimming gold medals and 37 medals in total at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, in what will go down as the most successful Games ever for the Australian Swim Team.
Surpassing the 16 gold won in Atlanta in 1996, and 14 at the Sydney 2000 Games, the team led by Jacqueline Freney with eight gold, Matt Cowdrey with five, Ellie Cole with four and a host of other contributors, saved the best for last, with Prue Watt winning her first ever Paralympic gold medal and the men’s medley relay team picking up bronze.
For Cowdrey, the bronze medal was his eighth medal for the Games, and the 23rd medal overall for Australia’s greatest Paralympian, who plans to swim on to Rio 2016 and add to his legacy in the pool saying everyone on the team stepped up and delivered for Australia.
“Everyone on this swim team has stood up and put their hand up this week, from Maddi (Elliott) our youngest swimmer, through to the older guys,” said Cowdrey.
“Everyone that felt some sort of pressure, or some sort of anxiety or had some sort of expectations on them, came and they swam their hearts out as well. Every single person on this team deserves a big pat on the back and I hope the Australian public get behind what these guys have done this week. I know all of us are proud of our team and I hope the Australian public is too.”
A triple Paralympian from Athens, Beijing and now London, Watt won six medals in 2004, but has had to wait all this time for the elusive gold swimming a new personal best time of 1:19.19 to win it the women’s 100m breaststroke (SB13) in style.
“To win a gold medal is something that I have wanted for so long and I’m incredibly happy about that,” said Watt.
“I think it’s going to take a while to really kick in and actually realise that I’ve finally done it, but for the moment I am very content and very happy.”
I was actually really relaxed and through this whole competition my main tactic has been to stay as relaxed as I can, and I think I’ve been able to do that fairly well and conserve all my energy to put into the race. I was really just wanting to give it my best, and that is what I did.
Winning by more than a second, Watt’s vision impairment means she is unable to see the scoreboard at the end of a race and had to wait before competitors were able to tell her that she had won while Teigan van Roosmalen finished seven in 1:24.03.
“That was incredibly hard. I touched the wall and I just had no idea and then everyone else around me told me that I had won,” said Watt.
“But it is quite bizarre and I wasn’t actually sure what to do, so I sort of just sat there and it was a bit of weird feeling.”
The men’s 100m breaststroke (SB9) saw Rick Pendleton finish sixth in a time of 1:10.96, while Matthew Haanappel finished fifth in the men’s 100m freestyle (S6) in 1:09.88.
Australian Swim Team Medal Tally – 2012 Paralympic Games
Gold 18, Silver 7, Bronze 12 – Total 37
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