World records fell like nine pins in the Olympic Park on Day 3, which was full of thrills and spills. Absolutely packed venues (not an empty seat in the massive stadium!) saw all sorts of barely old records broken and new ones rapidly made, especially in the athletics events. While the British Team gave much to the Host Nation to smile about, adding four more Golds to the growing tally of 36 medals, American athletes, who have been largely ignored by their countrymen, have also tried to make up for lost time by propelling themselves up the medal tables, with swimmer Jessica Long being the only athlete in the Games to have already earned three Gold medals in her races.
For Team GB, husband and wife pair, Barney and Sarah Storey, both won Golds in their Individual Cycling Pursuits - a great, poignant family achievement to remember. Barney helped his team mate, Neil Fachie, to clock a new world record in the Velodrome. Britain now heads the Cycling medal table, with the most medals in the sport.
Drama also unfolded in the Aquatics Centre in a thrilling final of the 400m Freestyle - S6. Defending champion Ellie Simmonds, only 17 years old, was only 0.08 seconds ahead at the final turn. But she pulled away on the last leg and her USA rival, Victoria Arlen, also 17, had no answer to that, as Simmonds touched first to beat Arlen's world record by more than five seconds, and sent the home crowd into a frenzy. She couldn't stop crying with joy, even as she was getting her medal: "I can't believe I did it," she said. "It was so tough,but I thought to myself, I'm going to have to put my head down. I'm going to do it for for everyone who's supported me". That determined attitude paid off handsomely as Britain gained a new sporting heroine yesterday.
Another outstanding swimmer, Sophie Pascoe of Australia, also managed to break two of her own world records in the pool, and in the same race, the 100m Butterfly - S10.
World Record Glory
The acknowledged giant of the Paralympics, double amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, returned to London and a new world record in the Olympic Stadium. More than 82,000 spectators - capacity audience - saw Pistorius made the new record effortlessly in his heat. He was the first Paralympian to complete in the able bodied Olympic Games and actually reached the semi finals of the 200 metres. There is no doubt that he will have few rivals when he runs the final of it on Day 4.
Britain's Richard Whitehead did not disappoint the expectations or his fans when he blitzed the final 100m of his 200m - T42 race, coming from well down the field to smash his own world record, and flexing his biceps as he crossed the line in 24.38 seconds. That was some amazing race, to see him recover gradually from last position to actually fly unopposed to the finishing line. A truly breathtaking performance.
Ireland was also made proud by the thrilling display of two of its athletes, the renowned Jason Smyth winning the men's 100m - T13 in a world record and Michael McKillop cruising to victory in the men's 800m - T37. Jason is no doubt the fastest Paralympian on the Earth, and it was fantastic that a packed excited stadium was there to see him confirm that feat.
In Powerifting, world records continued to be made with both Esther Oyema and Joy Onaolapo of Nigeria, en route to their gold medals, as Nigeria's dominance of the sport continued. The West African nation has taken the Paralympics by storm in this event, winning a medal in seven of the eight categories, and boasting four Golds. Oyema won the women's -48kg with a lift of 135kg while Onaolapo triumphed in the women's -52kg category with a new world record of 131kg.
Public Support for the Games
I have always been very proud to be a Briton, ever since I became a citizen of my adopted country 40 years ago. But these Paralympic Games have shown the true spirit of our nation and filled me with tremendous pride at being British. Perhaps because we feel secure in ourselves now, we no longer have anything to prove to anyone else, we also feel comfortable dealing with difference, because we have treated the Paralympians exactly like the Olympians, both in expectations and support.
Since the Paralympic Games began, the Olympic Stadium has been full to capacity, and all the other event venues had few seats available. In return, the crowds were rewarded with the most amazing performances in all the sports. It was very moving, often poignant, and downright enjoyable to see many of the competitions and the emerging champions. And when British swimmer, Ellie Simmonds, managed to beat off her American rival, demolishing the world record by a full five seconds at the end, the Aquatics Centre erupted! It ws like the icing on the cake.
The Paralympic Games, long ignored by Britain and, sadly, still being ignored by America in a message that says only able bodied matter, has come home to us in every sense of the word. It is teaching us tolerance, appreciation of difference and pride in ourselves. We cannot thrive as a nation unless we all unite together to lift the country up, otherwise the excluded part will always seek to destroy the rest. We have learnt that lesson the hard way, and are now enjoying the fruits of it by the incredible support being given to all the athletes from all the countries.
It feels awfully good to be British today, setting the standards of tolerance and appreciatio for others to follow in a simple unequivocal way!
News Highlights (Courtesy London 2012.com)
* Carol-Eduard Novak of Romania won the men's Individual C4 Pursuit after qualifying in a world record.
* Australian Paralympic newcomer, Joann Formosa, pulled off a shock by beating gold medal favourite Lee Pearson in the Dressage at Greenwich Park.
* Britain did have a gold to celebrate in the Equestrian section, with 22-year-old Natasha Baker scoring a Paralympic Grade II record on her horse, Cabral.
* Maria del Carmen Herrera Gomez of Spain beat Tatiana Savostyanova of Russia in the women's -70kg final to claim her third Paralympic title.
* Dutch Wheelchair Tennis star, Esther Vergeer, demolished Kanako Domori of Japan in 44 minutes to win her first-round Singles match, and launch her bid for a fourth consecutive Paralympic title at Eton Manor. It stretched her unbeaten Singles match run to an incredible 466.
49 Gold medals were awarded in the following 6 sports:
ATHLETICS (Track & Field) (17)
Maroua Imbrahimi, Tunisia; Jalil Jeddi Bagheri, Iran; Felipe Louis Gutierrez, Cuba; Richard Whitehead, Great Britain; Zhang Liangmin, China; Elena Ivanova, Russian Federation; Maragarita Goncharova, Russian Federation; Yang Liwan, China; Mohsen Kaidi, Iran; Jason Smyth, Ireland; Liu Fuliang, China; Iurii Tsaruk, Ukraine; Katarzyna Piekart, Poland; Michelle Stilwell, Canada; Michael McKillop, Ireland; Evan O'Hanlon, Australia; Yunidis Castillo, Cuba
CYCLING (Track) (5)
Neil Fachie, Great Britain; Carol-Eduard Novak, Rumania; Michael Gallagher, Australia; He Yin, China; Sarah Storey, Great Britain
Natasha Baker, Great Britain; Joann Formosa, Australia
Jorge Marcillis Hierrezuelo, Cuba; Choi Gwang-Guen, South Korea; Kento Masaki, Japan; Maria del Carmen Herrera Gomez, Spain; Yuan Yanping, China
Esther Oyema, Nigeria; Joy Onaolapo, Nigeria; Nader Moradi, Iran
Vasyl Kovalchuk, Ukraine; Cedric Fevre, France
Andre Brasil, Brazil; Sophie Pascoe, Australia; Darragh McDonald, Ireland; Ellie Simmonds, Great Britain; Andriy Kalyna, Ukraine; Olesya Vladykina, Russian Federation; Daniel Dias, Brazil; Sarah Louise Rung, Norway; Yang Bozun, China; Cecilia Camellini, Italy; Charles Bouwer, South Africa; Kelly Becherer, USA; Blake Cochrane, Australia; Jessica Long, USA; Yang Yang, China
2012 PARALYMPIC GAMES MEDAL LEADERS (Day 3)
(49 countries - 30% of all teams competing - have shared the 113 Gold medals so far)
1. China 56 Total (20Gold, 15Silver, 21Bronze)
2. Australia 29 (11Gold, 5Silver, 13Bronze)
3. Great Britain 36 (9Gold, 16Silver, 11Bronze)
4. Ukraine 22 (9Gold, 6Silver, 7Bronze)
5. Russian Federation 22 (8Gold, 9Silver 5Bronze)
USA remains in 6th position with a new total of 22 medals (6Golds, 6Silver, 10Bronze)
DAY 4 ACTIVITY (16 sporting events)
Athletics (Gold Medal Event)
Cycling (Track) (Gold Medal)
Equestrian (Gold Medal)
Powerlifting (Gold Medal)
Rowing (Gold Medal)
Shooting (Gold Medal)
Swimming (Gold Medal)
Table Tennis (Gold Medal)
Stars who could shine on Day 4
* Oscar Pistorius, the South African face of the Paralaympic Games, defends three world titles, even making another in his heats. Like Usain Bolt of Jamaica, he has captured the imagination of everyone with his awesome talent. But Blake Leeper from the USA could give him a run for his money!
* Competition will also come from Brazilian Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira, who delivered the second fastest time of the heats, and Jerome Singleton (USA), Pistorius' main rival over the shorter 100m distance.
* Great Britain's David Weir will be hoping to give the massive home support something to cheer about as he competes in his first final of the Games. Weir came through the third heat of the men's 5000m - T54 in first place, but will face stiff competition in the final from Switzerland's Marcel Hug and Julien Casoli of France.
* In the Aquatics Centre, world record holder, Canadian Valerie Grand-Maison, will be hoping her time away from the sport will not have affected her chances of retaining gold in the women's 100m Freestyle - S13.
* Day 4 sees the last Rowing action at Eton Dorney, where Great Britain's Tom Aggar looks to defend his men's Single Sculls gold medal and add yet another title to his already bulging trophy cabinet.
London2012.com (For round up and great pictures)
Paralympic.org (for live stream videos, athletes bios, results and all the relevant information)