Australia’s gold caps soared through the water at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Wednesday night, successfully capturing one silver and three bronze medals across breaststroke, freestyle and individual medley events.
Taking home his second medal of the Games, dual Paralympian Tim Hodge scored silver in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley (SM9). After placing fifth as a 15-year-old in Rio with a time of 2:21.14, the young Auburn swimmer wiped more than five seconds off that time to propel home in 2:15.42 – extremely close to his personal best. Starting the race strong, Hodge held the lead during his preferred butterfly and backstroke legs, but then Russia’s Andrei Kalina pushed him hard during the breaststroke and began to edge ahead in the final 50 metres of freestyle ultimately clocking 2:14.90.
Although deep down the unflappable Hodge was gunning for gold, he was pleased with his performance and enjoyed standing on the podium once again.
“It was great stand up there again after getting a bronze in the 100m backstroke and represent Australia,” Hodge said.
“It feels pretty good to have this medal around my neck. I remember coming home from Rio without one and I was still quite happy with my achievements, btu to now be able to come home with not just one but two now is a great feeling.”
Four-time Paralympian and Dolphin leader, Blake Cochrane, produced the second-best swim of his career to walk away with his fourth individual Paralympic medal in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke (SB7). After watching his teammates in the stands for the past seven days, it was finally his moment to dive into the competition pool, and the father of one didn’t disappoint. Standing on the block with a steely resolve, the 30-year-old propelled himself into the water and left nothing to chance, ultimately hitting the wall in a time of 1:16.97 – only 0.08 outside of his personal best. Fellow teammate Jesse Aungles sped home in fourth, clocking a new PB of 1:22.06.
Speaking after the race on pool deck, Cochrane said this medal is one he’ll treasure forever.
“In all honesty there’s a lot of hard work and a lot of things that go behind the scenes in being an athlete. It’s tough and it can be tough for the people in your life as well with all the sacrifices they make for you, so out of all the medals I’ve won, this one probably means the most. I’m stoked with that race, and I’m stoked with that swim,” Cochrane said.
“It has been a very long week watching everyone else step up onto pool deck and race, and watching my fellow Aussies really step up and win some nice gold medals and a world record in the relay, I mean it’s been a long wait but I’m finally happy to be out there.”
Having already won a bronze medal in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley (SM7), 20-year-old Tiffany Thomas Kane collected another yet another – this time in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke (SB7). In a hot field comprising of Russia’s Mariia Pavlova and the USA’s Jessica Long, the 2019 World Para Champ was always going to have a fight on her hands. Even though her preparation leading into the Games hasn’t been ideal, the Warringah Aquatic athlete wanted to get the best out of the race and powered through the water to a post a time of 1:35.02 to claim bronze.
While she was happy to secure another position on the podium, the 20-year-old had strived for more.
“I did go into the race wanting more but after the year I’ve had, the training I was able to do has paid off and I’m coming home with another medal,” she said.
“Like all Australians I’ve had challenges Covid, and then I ruptured my liver at the start of the year, so it’s really shown that a lot of time out of the water has hit, but I’m happy with what I got.
“I was going in ranked number one for the fastest time and that race at Worlds I was fully trained and the fittest I’d ever been, so it has definitely hit a bit more but, that happens, it’s life and everyone has gone through a hard time and we’re all just doing really well being here.”
Games debutant, Somerset’s Tom Gallagher, captured his first Paralympic medal by storming home in the Men’s 400m Freestyle (S10) to achieve bronze. In a war of nutrition, the former surf lifesaver smashed his personal best by three and a half seconds and set a new Australian record of 4:03.91 to secure the final place on the dais.
An elated Gallagher said this moment was an accumulation of a lot of hard training.
“So much work went into this and to get something from it is just amazing. I haven’t been around for long, but that last 10 months have just been crazy – it’s just amazing for it to come off,” he said.
“I just went out and I held onto the bloke next to me. I just knew if I stayed with him I would be in contention. I had a few looks around here and there to see where I was and then in that final 150 metres I just gave it my all. I am so happy. Coming into this I never would have thought this was possible, a bronze medal is just amazing.”
Australia’s medal tally in the pool now stands at 28 including five gold, nine silver and fourteen bronze.
Action from the Tokyo Aquatics Centre kicks off again tomorrow morning with heats starting from 10am AEST.