Rowers and cyclists take centre stage on golden day for Great British paralympians

Ross McLean
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Rachel Morris won rowing gold (Source: Getty)

ROWING and cycling assumed centre stage on another gold medal-laden day for Great Britain at the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Four rowing medals were scooped by ParalympicsGB within an hour on the Lagoa water. Rachel Morris, who had both legs amputated due to complex regional pain syndrome, started the procession with gold in the arms-shoulders single sculls.

“This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Morris. “It just goes to show if you have stuff drilled into you every day by the coaches and you do it you can win.”

Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley followed suit by leading from start to finish to win the trunk-and-arms mixed double sculls, while the mixed cox four defended their London 2012 crown as Tom Aggar took bronze in the men’s arm-shoulders single sculls.

Britain have been untouchable in the velodrome where eight of their 12 medals have been gold. Two more followed yesterday as Lora Turnham won the B 3km individual pursuit and the men’s C1-5 team secured sprint gold in a world record time.

Jody Cundy, one third of the sprint team, has now won seven Paralympic titles across swimming and cycling, while his emotions yesterday were a complete contrast to those experienced at London 2012 when he was disqualified from the kilo.

“After four years ago and being the lowest I’ve ever been this is probably the highest I’ve ever been,” he said.

Those five gold medals increased the British Paralympic Association’s hopes that Great Britain will surpass the 120 medals won at London 2012 and achieve one of the nation’s most successful Games.

This aim was boosted in the evening session by another three golds as swimmer Bethany Firth won the women’s 200m freestyle S14 final, Richard Whitehead defended his 200m T42 crown and Jo Butterfield took the F51 club throw.

“It was just about winning the race,” said Whitehead. “The time didn’t mean much. I saw the line and knew I’d won with 20m to go.

“A few things went through my head, how hard it’s been at times, there’s been ups and downs so it’s great to be Paralympic champion again. It’s my last 200m in the Paralympic arena.”