With their Dolphin teammates urging them on from the stands at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, best mates Ahmed Kelly and Grant ‘Scooter’ Patterson have both claimed maiden Paralympic medals after placing second and third respectively in the Men’s 150m Individual Medley (SM3).
This precious feat has been a long time coming for the lovable pair who have been working towards this goal since London 2012 and now, remarkably, the best mates have shared this moment together.
Swimming from lanes four and five, the gold caps never gave up and pulled away from the main pack along with Mexico’s Jesus Hernandez Hernandez, who ultimately secured the gold just as he did at the World Para Champs in 2019. Both Kelly and Patterson swam quicker in the final with Kelly posting 3:02.23 and Patterson 3:05.57.
The delighted pair said they couldn’t have scripted the night any better.
“If you had said nine years ago that I would make a Paralympic final with the potential to win a bronze medal I would have said ‘you’re joking’, but I was always under the impression that I would stick at it and be there if any opportunity was to arise and that’s what happened tonight, so it’s good to know all the hard work paid off,” Scooter said.
“To be in a race and on the podium with one of your best mates is pretty special. There are not many people that have known each other for 15 or so years that are still racing years later and making a final, so I think that’s pretty special.”
Kelly echoed Scooter’s sentiments in the mixed zone and said third time is a charm.
“This is years and years of hard work, I can’t even begin to describe the effort and things we’ve had to do to get to this point and I’m proud of everyone involved to get this silver medal,” Kelly said.
“This young man next to me, Scoot – although he’s not so young anymore – has just been a fantastic training partner for many years and he has allowed me to be so driven in the pool to keep me honest at training. We’ve pushed each other and balance each other with humour – it’s just been a wonderful journey getting to these Games.”
The silver and bronze attained by the pair weren’t the only medals Australia collected on night four at the pool, with Matt Levy, Rowan Crothers and the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle (S14) relay also adding to the tally.
As the most experienced member of the team, 34-year-old Levy made history when he became just the second Australian to represent Australia at five Paralympics Games in swimming – and he celebrated in style with a bronze medal in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke (SB6). Making a fast start from lane five, Levy held strong in the back half of the race, going neck and neck for silver and bronze against Columbian, Nelson Corzo Crispen in lane four. In the end Levy touched for third spot in 1:21.10 – also setting a new Australian record.
Speaking after the race, the ever-determined Levy said this medal would hold a dear spot in his career.
“This one is pretty special because the lead up has been pretty rough for everyone, a five year build up and the Covid pandemic and lockdowns in Australia, so I think these Games is not about who has trained the hardest but the person that can overcome that adversity in and outside the pool.
“The results are infectious and the mateship within the team and it rolls on day by day, so it’s really great to be part of a team that’s not only successful but also we’re really good friends as well.”
After becoming the Paralympic champion in the Men’s 50m Freestyle (S10) on night one, Rowan Crothers added a silver medal to his tally when he powered home in the longer form – the Men’s 100m Freestyle (S10). Battling it out from lane five it took a world record performance by Maksym Krypak from the Ukraine to snare gold ahead of Crothers who touched just 0.73 of a second behind – 50.64 to 51.37. Fellow Dolphin teammate and Games debutant Tom Gallagher also swam in the final and finished a highly commendable fifth in 53.14.
“This is just incredible, I came here to do my best and if that meant placing eight in everything or making no finals, I’d still be happy as long as I gave it my all, so to come through with a silver medal tonight and a gold from the other night is just amazing,” Crothers said.
“Maksym and I have been rivals for a while, he was this absolutely incredible monster back in 2016 in Rio and I thought I would never come close to beating him ever and to touch him out on the 50m and to be that close in the 100 is just amazing and I’m proud of myself for the progression that I’ve made since then.”
When asked if he knew what impact his achievements were having back home in Australia, Crothers had to hold back tears when he recounted one story.
“I couldn’t tell you honestly how many times I have cried on my phone because I have received these amazing messages from so many people,” he said.
“There was one mother who messaged me saying that after watching my race her son who has cerebral palsy wanted to ride a bike for the first time – the first time ever, he said ‘if Rowan can do it, I can do it too’.
“That’s absolutely incredible. The one thing I said I really wanted to do when I made this Paralympic team was to inspire other kids, not to necessarily to jump in the pool but to find something they enjoy and are passionate about and chase that in their lives and now there’s one kid who’s looking for that – it’s just amazing and means more to me than any medal, any record and any performance.”
In the final event of the night Australia’s Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay (S14) team, comprising of Ricky Betar, Ben Hance, Ruby Storm and Madeleine McTernan, captured a silver medal with a time of 3:46.38. This is the first time in Games history this event has been swum and for Betar and McTernan, this marks their first Paralympic medals. In what is always a tactical battle, Australia sent their two male athletes into the pool first and then let the women hang on to bring it home. Great Britain took the gold in a world record time of 3:40.63.
In more results from the evening, young Bay and Basin swimmer Jasmine Greenwood posted a new personal best of 1:10.18 to see her set a new Australian record and place fifth in the Women’s 100m Freestyle S10, while Jesse Aungles clocked 2:29.48 in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley (SM8) to finish seventh overall.
Australia’s medal tally in the pool now stands at 17 including four gold, four silver and nine bronze.
All the action from the Tokyo Aquatics Centre kicks off again tomorrow morning with heats starting from 10am AEST.