JACQUI Freney picked up her fifth gold medal as a member of the victorious world record breaking 4x100m freestyle relay team while 13-year-old Maddison Elliott became Australia’s youngest ever Paralympic gold medallist on night five of swimming action at the Aquatic Centre.
Saving the best til last, the Aussie team of Ellie Cole, Elliott, Kat Downie and Freney smashed the world record by some three seconds to win Australia’s ninth gold medal at the pool and 23rd medal in total to maintain second place on the swimming medal tally behind China.
Freney’s fifth gold was a highlight, swimming the final leg against an S10 and S9 swimmer and diving in with a 16m head start thanks to a strong third leg from West Australian Downie.
“The girls swam out of their skin for Australia and I just didn’t want to let them down at all,” said Freney. “I gave it my all and we ended up with the world record and the gold medal to boot, so I couldn’t be prouder of these girls.”
“Kat had a 16 metre head start for me which was really great, and I just wanted to keep that lead and I knew that the other girls from the other nations would go out hard but I held them off.”
A dual Paralympian, but having never won a relay before, Ellie Cole now has two gold medals to her name, adding this title to her 100m backstroke crown from night 2.
“That relay couldn’t have gone any better and I’ve never won a relay before in my life,” said Cole.
“To do it with these girls with an average age of 16 on the team, quite a young team, is just phenomenal. I was getting a little bit nervous there, but I knew that Jacqui was quite a fighter and I said to her in the marshalling room that they couldn’t have picked a better person to anchor the team because of her fighting spirit.”
While for Elliott, the relay medal completes the set having already won individual bronze and silver at this meet.
“I feel really happy, I’ve just been wanting to get gold at these Games and tonight I knew the relay girls could go really well and I never thought we’d get gold,” said Elliott.
Freney’s first gold of the night and fourth overall came in the women’s 100m freestyle (S7) in a time of 1:09.39, winning by more than five body lengths while still having to conserve herself for the relay and another three events to come.
“I basically just pace myself off the clock and I don’t need anyone around me to do a good time and I think that I’ve proved that,” said Freney.
“I like to keep everything in routine and I’ve stuck as close to my routine as I could in the village as well as food intake and getting enough recovery for my races.”
Already a gold medallist from the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay last night, and multiple bronze medallist, Matt Levy added silver to his London loot, finishing second in the men’s 100m freestyle (S7).
Levy swam his third PB of the meet to hit the wall in 1:01.38 and having never won an individual Paralympic medal until three days ago, the 25-year-old said the hard work over the last eight years has paid off.
“One of each is pretty awesome. You always come to the Paralympics to do PBs not for the medals, so it’s pretty cool to come away with two bronze, one gold, and now one silver,” said Levy.
“To come away with that many medals and also PBs as well which is probably more important, is fantastic and great to see that the work has finally paid off.”
Swimming in his main event, rookie Paralympian Ahmed Kelly used his strong start to finish fourth in men’s 50m breaststroke in a time of 52.45. Having swum a PB in the morning, Kelly was just over a second off bronze and said his experience only improves his desire to go to Rio for the 2016 Paralympic Games.
Sean Russo and Tim Antalfy finished fourth and fifth respectively in the final of the men’s 100m backstroke with Russo hitting the wall in 1:02.59 and Antalfy a second and a half behind in 1:04.03, while Blake Cochrane finished 6th in the final of the men’s 50m freestyle (S8) in 27.64.
Matthew Haanappel started the night for Australia swimming a one second personal best in the men’s 200m IM (SM6) to finish seventh in a time of 2:55.60. Swimming faster than he did to make the team from the Australian Championships in March Haanappel said he was ‘happy to swim so well in a Paralympic final’.
Day 5 - Australian Swimming Medal Tally - Gold 9, Silver 7, Bronze 7
By Lachlan Searle