A fresh faced 15-year-old in Beijing, Brenden Hall came of age tonight at the Aquatic Centre smashing his own world record in the men’s 400m freestyle (S9) to win Australia’s 10th gold medal, while Jacqui Freney bagged her sixth and Australia’s 11th overall.
With Freney already having to plan for excess baggage, and the idea of potentially taking home a total of eight medals, Hall’s victory was the sweetest on night 6, with the Queenslander picking up his first individual Paralympic medal and doing it in style with a world record to boot.
Stripping nearly four seconds off his own world mark, which he set in Adelaide in March, to hit the wall in 4:10.88, Hall said the post race celebration was the result of some 12 years of hard work and dedication.
“I spent the last ten metres just smiling into the wall,” said Hall who knew he had it won very early on. “Like at the 100m mark only because I have really been working on back end with my coach Chris Phillips.”
Hall will now look to the 50m freestyle tomorrow before finishing off the meet with the 100m freestyle and medley relay.
“We are only halfway through and I still have four races left. Hopefully we can win more gold and do Australia proud.”
For Freney, who has now joined idol Siobhan Paton as a six-time Paralympic gold medallist at one Games, the 50m freestyle victory came in another Paralympic record time of 32.63.
Having set a Paralympic record in the heats this morning, Freney powered home over the second 25m to beat American Cortney Jordan to the wall who finished less than half a second behind in 33.18.
"I am not a sprinter so I am really happy to get another gold medal under my belt”, said Freney, “It is a bit of a shock.”
"I think Siobhan Paton winning the six gold medals at the Sydney Paralympics was my inspiration for tonight."
Ellie Cole picked up her third medal of the meet, to match her total from Beijing, taking bronze in the women’s 400m freestyle (S9) in a personal best 4:42.87.
Racing world record holder Natalie du Toit from South Africa who finished in 4:30.18, Cole said she has been inspired by du Toit all her career and will miss swimming against such a champion.
“It’s disappointing that’s probably the last time I’ll get to race Natalie in a 400, but maybe now she can give me a few tips on things going forward,” said Cole.
Matt Levy was just out touched for bronze in the final of the men’s 50m freestyle (S7) swimming a personal best time of 28.58. A three-time medallist already at these Games, Levy was just 0.11 of a second off bronze with the USA’s Lantz Lamback winning in a Paralympic record of 27.84.
In the men’s 100m backstroke (S10) Michael Anderson led the field out over the first 50m to turn in front, only to fade over last 25m and finish fifth in a time of 1:01.40. Andrew Pasterfield was seventh overall in 1:02.84. In the women’s 100m backstroke (S10) Kat Downie picked up her best individual finish of the meet to swim a personal best 1:11.40 and take fourth place.
Maddi Elliott finished sixth in the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke (S8) in another personal best time of 1:23.28, while Matthew Haanappel also finished sixth in the men’s 50m freestyle (S6) in a time of 32.13. Sean Russo rounded out the night for the Aussie’s finishing 6th in the final of the men’s 400m freestyle (S13) in a personal best time of 4:18.25.
Australian Swim Team Medal Tally – Day 6
Gold 11, Silver 7, Bronze 8
By Lachlan Searle