This was an amazing day in the 2012 Paralympics which seem to have really come of age at last. Britain bagged another seven medals, Oscar Pistorius, the seemingly invincible South African runner, was beaten in a dramatic finish in the T44 200metres by a virtually unknown Brazilian, and immediately cried foul, while British 5,000metre racer, David Weir, brought the audience to their feet with a stunning finish in his race.
First of all, Oscar Pistorius, who was expecting great things after his indelible mark on Paralympic sports, got the shock of his life at 21.15 Greenwich Mean Time when he was beaten soundly by Brazilian Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira. USA athlete, Blake Leeper, claimed the Bronze. The unexpected defeat immediately left Pistorius in much of a quandary and disarray so much that he sought refuge in decrying the Brazilian's achievement by complaining how the winner's blades were longer than his own, giving him extra advantage, instead of congratulating him in a graceful manner.
No one likes a poor loser, and it really took the edge off a fine win to hear Pistorius blaming the Brazilian's blades instead of acknowledging that on the night he did not perform well enough. Later on, when he realised the damage he was doing to his own reputation by his refusal to acknowledge defeat, he backtracked somewhat to say that he congratulated the winner and would be focusing on his upcoming races. The problem with criticising other winners, when an athlete believes he has the 'right' to win, is that he leaves himself open to similar charges when he wins. The unexpected drama means that there will actually be great rivalry now in the other races where the two men will meet because it shows that Pistorius can be beaten, which makes for a more exciting finale.
Afterwards, a joyful Oliveira said: "Only my family, my friends, people next to me know what I've been through for being away from my family, training in Sao Paulo. Being here representing Brazil, I'm very happy. It's what I always dreamed about and today I'm entering into the history of the Paralympic Games." He certainly has! The significance of his win, especially when Brazil is hosting the next Olympic Games, was not lost on commentators.
British Glory Day
For Team GB, it was Gold Glory Day. Of the 60 medals up for grabs, Britain bagged more than 10% of them. There were two Golds in Athletics (Men's Discus and 5000 metres), one on the Cycling Track, Individual and Team medals in the Equestrian, one in Rowing and one for Swimming. The greatest excitement occurred in the 5,000metre wheelchair race with David Weir representing Britain. It is clear he ran a tactical race, sticking near the front but never leading. In fact, on the last lap he looked as though he might be edged out of the medals until the last 250 metres when he found some extra power to storm home in a thrilling finish that drew admiration and rapturous applause from the packed stadium of spectators.
Great Britain's Equestrian riders won a fifth successive Team title and backed it up with three Individual medals. The British team of Sophie Christiansen, Lee Pearson, Sophie Wells and Deb Criddle triumphed with a new Paralympic record Team score. It was also Pearson's 10th Paralympic gold of a stellar career, putting him one behind British record-holders Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Roberts. For the Discus, Aled Davies gave a stunning performance to win the Gold in the F42 Discus Throw, topped off by the surprise of the Duchess of Cambridge presenting his medal to him.
Altogether, the host nation's Team had a lot to shout about on Day 4, as they finished the day in second place for the medals, just behind China which had a commanding haul of Gold medals. It is clear that people like Weir and Ellie Simmonds are inspiring the other athletes to rise above the occasion. It wouldn't be unreasonable to say that we expect tons more medals before the Games are finished!
Games Coming into Their Own
With the petulant outburst of Oscar Pistorius at his defeat, one could actually say that these Paralympic Games have truly arrived. Whinging and complaining have always been associated with the Olympics. The Paralympics were deemed more gentlemanly, with not much to complain of. Until now. The stakes are getting higher for the athletes, as sponsorship begins to make its mark for the top stars, and now the angst of performing to one's best, and keeping that star following is rising to the fore. It is no longer just disabled people performing to prove themselves, but talented disabled athletes carving a niche for themselves just like their able bodied peers. The 2012 Games are proving that sports is now on a new level of excellence and expectation, in both the Olympics and Paralympics, and the latter is garnering a brand new appreciative following.
Apart from Pistorius' outburst, other athletes, especially from America, are also complaining about their reclassification into different categories days before their performance. Apparently, if they appear to be coping too well above others in a category, they are reclassified to the category above to give them greater challenge. But when one has prepared for one's category for four years, one should not be reclassified just days before one's performance. It should be done at least two years before and one can understand the disappointment and resentment of the athletes to find that they are shifted at the last minute.
Before the Olympic Games began, the Paralympics were clearly in the shadow of it; the poor relation. Not any more. And that can be no bad thing for genuine equality and access to opportunities for the athletes, whatever their ability.
60 Gold medals were awarded in the following 8 sports:
ATHLETICS (Track & Field) (21)
Terezhina Guilhermina, Brazil; Tanya Dragic, Serbia; Mariia Pomazan, Ukraine; Kelly Cartwright, Australia; Evgenii Shvetcove, Russian Federation; Edith Wolf, Switzerland; Mandy Francois-Elie, France; Li Huzao, China; Aled Daviesi, Great Britain; Raymond Martin, USA; Gao Mingjie, China; Yohansson Nascimento, Brazil; Nikol Rodomakina, Russian Federation; Zhou Guohua China; Leo Pekka Tahti, Finland; Alexey Labzin, Russian Federation; David Casino, Spain; Huang Lisha, China; Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliviera, Brazil; Marie Amelie le Fur, France; David Weir, Great Britain
CYCLING (Track) (3)
Anthony Kappes, Great Britain; Phillippa Gray, New Zealand; Team China
Michelle George, Belgium; Hannelore Brenner, Germany; Sophie Christiansen, Great Britain
Fatma Omar, Egypt; Liu Lei, China; Amalia Perez, Mexico
Alla Lysenko, Ukraine; Huang Chen, China; Team China; Team Great Britain
Juyoung Kang, South Korea
Yevenhiy Bohodayko, Ukraine; Jacqueline Freney, Australia; Jon Margeir Sverrisson, Iceland; Jessica-Jane Applegate, Great Britain; Dmytro Zalevskyy, Ukraine; Rina Akiyama, Japan; Ihar Boki, Belarus; Kelly Becherer, USA; Roman Makarov, Russian Federation; Leslie Cameron, New Zealand; Mallory Weggemann, USA; Du Jianping,China; Team Australia; Jeoanna Mendak, Poland
TABLE TENNIS (11)
Wong Ka Man, Hong Kong, China; Feng Panfeng, China; Rungroj Thainiyom,Thailand; Liu Jing, China; Ma Lin, China; Tommy Urhaug, Norway; Jochen Wollmert, Germany; Zhou Ying, China; Mao Jingdian, China; Zhang Bian, China; Patryk Chojnowski, Poland
2012 PARALYMPIC GAMES MEDAL LEADERS (Day 4)
(58 countries - 35% of all teams competing - have shared the 173 Gold medals so far)
1. China 87 Total (35Gold, 24Silver, 28Bronze)
2. Great Britain 54 (16Gold, 24Silver, 14Bronze)
3. Australia 43 (14Gold, 11Silver, 18Bronze)
4. Ukraine 33 (13Gold, 8Silver, 12Bronze)
5. Russian Federation 34 (12Gold, 13Silver 9Bronze)
USA remains in 6th position with a new total of 33 medals (9Golds, 8Silver, 16Bronze)
DAY 5 ACTIVITY (14 sporting events)
Archery (Gold Medal Event)
Athletics (Gold Medal)
Equestrian (Gold Medal)
Powerlifting (Gold Medal)
Shooting (Gold Medal)
Swimming (Gold Medal)
Table Tennis (Gold Medal)
STARS WHO COULD SHINE ON DAY 5
* The Games' first Archery medals are set to be handed out at The Royal Artillery Barracks in what looks set to be one of the day's most hotly-contested events. Matt Stutzman, Guillermo Rodriguez Gonzalez, Dogan Hanci and Jere Forsberg battle it out for gold in the men's Individual Compound - Open. USA's Stutzman, who holds the world record for the longest accurate shot with a bow insists he is well-versed in keeping cool in tense situations.
* In the Olympic Stadium, 18-year-old Raymond Martin of the USA, whose 400m -T52 season's best is a staggering five seconds faster than any of his rivals, will be hoping to maintain his form and take his second gold medal of the Games.
* Reigning champion Tomoya Ito of Japan is the only athlete in the discipline at London 2012 to have ever posted a faster time than Martin, but even he has struggled to keep pace with the Paralympic newcomer this year.
* Spain's David Casino will be hoping to hit the jackpot by defending his men's Shot Put - F11/12 title in the early session.
* Over at the Aquatics Centre, six-time Paralympic champion Sascha Kindred will be aiming to deliver a winning performance in home waters as he looks to claim his fourth consecutive 200m Individual Medley - SM6 title.
London2012.com (For round up and great pictures)
Paralympic.org (for live stream videos, athletes bios, results and all the relevant information)