Dual Paralympians Tiffany Thomas Kane and Katja Dedekind both absorbed and pushed through pain during the final stages of their races to add another two bronze medals to Australia’s tally.
Scoring the first medal for the Aussie’s on Friday night at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre was Thomas Kane, who endured a gruelling Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM7. Leaving nothing in the tank, the 20-year-old – who won bronze in the SM6 classification in Rio – touched narrowly ahead of Canada’s Danielle Dorris, 3:03.11 to 3:03.16. Thomas Kane’s time was also a personal best and gives her momentum leading into her main event, the 100m breaststroke SB7 on day eight.
Speaking after the race, the Warringah Aquatic swimmer said she just knew she had to keep going in those last few moments.
“I didn’t have a clue where I was going into that final 50 and I thought ‘I want a medal in this’, so I really bought it home in that last fifty and man that stung but I managed to get to the wall,” she said.
“I was in so much pain that last bit and I just kept saying ‘keep moving, don’t slow down, kick those legs’, and I could see those other girls catching up – I’m just so stunned,” she exclaimed.
After rupturing her liver earlier in the year, Thomas Kane said just being in Tokyo was a feat and to make the dais was just an incredible feeling.
“It was kind of a shock for me, I had an injury this year where I ruptured my liver so even getting to the Games, I didn’t think was a possibility because I had so much time out of the water and the Games and Trials was so close,” she said.
“I thought I might not even make the team. But I’m here today with a bronze medal – I can’t believe it.”
Also swimming in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM7 alongside Thomas Kane was the youngest member of the Paralympic team, Isabella Vincent. In her first final appearance, the 15-year-old claimed seventh spot in a time of 3:13.46.
After achieving a bronze medal in the Women’s 100m Backstroke (S13) on Thursday night, Dedekind showed her grit and determination in the Women’s 400m Freestyle (S13), record her second bronze of the Games. Her time of 4:35.87 saw her smash her personal best by two and a half seconds and set a new Australian record.
“I’m ecstatic with that, I didn’t know how quickly I could have gone, this morning was a cruisier swim, but that one really hurt so I’m glad something good came out of it,” she said.
“I knew that the girls in the middle would go fast, and going into tonight I saw that the girls around me were also quite close to me so I knew that if I didn’t go from the first 25-50 metres I wasn’t able to go at all, so to do that and not know what was happening and then to end up with that result was just incredible.”
Dedekind will take confidence out of her swim as she prepares for her main race on day five – the Women’s 50m Freestyle (S13).
A valiant swim by South Australian and dual Paralympian, Jesse Aungles, saw him place fourth in the Men’s 100m Backstroke (S8). Swimming from lane three and posting a time right on his personal best – 1:07.94 – Aungles gave it everything he had in a highly competitive field. Only .85 of a second separated third and fourth place, with China’s Fengqi Liu touching narrowly ahead in 1:07.09. Robert Griswold from the USA won gold in a new world record time of 1:02.55.
In the Men’s 200m Freestyle (S14) final, Kawana Waters’ Liam Schluter and Auburn’s Ricky Betar battled it out from lanes two and seven. Schluter, who placed fifth in Rio, went one better in 2021 and finished fourth in 1:55.67. Once again it was so close between third and fourth, with only nine one hundredths of a second deciding who was going to secure the last place on the dais. After making his first Paralympic final on night one in the 100m butterfly S14, Betar finished a place higher on Friday night, touching in 1:56.70 to finish seventh.
In the corresponding event for the women, Ruby Storm – who took home a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly S14 on Wednesday night – finished seventh in 2:17.33. Swimming faster than her heat time this morning, Storm will benefit from making another Paralympic final as she looks ahead to the rest of her program.
The Men’s 400m Freestyle (S13) saw Braedan Jason place a highly commendable fourth in 4:12.75, competing as an S12 swimmer in the S13 event.
Australia’s medal tally in the pool is now 12 comprising of four gold, one silver and seven bronze.
All the action from the Tokyo Aquatics Centre kicks off again tomorrow morning, with heats beginning at 10am AEST.