Australia won the first two gold medals up for grabs at the Tokyo Paralympics in an incredible first day of competition that put us at the top of the medal table.
We finished the day with 10 medals, including six golds.
The first two golds came within 15 minutes of each other in track cycling at the Izu Velodrome*.
Paige Greco kicked off Australia’s medal count when she obliterated* her own world record to win the C3 classification for the women’s 3000m individual pursuit.
Then Emily Petricola – who broke her own world record in the C4 class in the morning heats – won gold in her race in even more dominant* fashion, lapping her American opponent, Shawn Morelli, with three laps still to go.
Greco, racing against China’s Xiaomei Wang, won her gold medal race easily in a time of 3mins 50.815sec, eclipsing the world record mark of 3mins 52.283sec she set earlier in the day.
Greco was just too fast and strong for her Chinese rival from the outset, opening up a lead of more than one second after the first 1000m, then finished more than four seconds in front.
Greco has cerebral palsy, which affects the right side of her body. She has already won four world tiles, both in track and road cycling, but this was her first Paralympic gold.
It was also a first Paralympic gold for Petricola, who was making her Paralympic debut at age 41. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 27, she was a latecomer to cycling but has been guided by her friend and mentor*, Shane Kelly, a former world champion.
Morelli set off fast to try and rattle the Australian, leading through the first 500m, but was unable to maintain the pace as Petricola caught up after nine of the scheduled 12 laps.
It was a golden start to day one of competition for Australia, with our swimmers continuing the medal rush in the evening, adding four golds, a silver and three bronze to put Australia on top of the medal table.
Will Martin won Australia’s first swimming gold medal. Better known as a butterfly swimmer, Martin won the men’s S9 400m freestyle in 4min 10.25sec.
In the very next race, Lakeisha Patterson also took gold in the women’s S9 400m freestyle final.
“It was such a hard race,” Patterson told Channel 7. “I knew it was going to be a tight one.
“I’m feeling more fried than a chook from KFC.”
The medal rush continued when Rowan Crothers won the men’s S10 50m freestyle final and Ben Popham took gold in the men’s S8 100m freestyle.
- velodrome: a track for bicycle racing, usually with steep sides
- obliterated: totally destroyed, wiped out
- dominant: having power over others
- latecomer: a person who arrives late or starts something late compared to others
- mentor: experienced and trusted adviser
- What is the name of the track where the cyclists are competing in Tokyo?
- Which of the Australian cyclists in this story won the first gold medal of the Paralympics and the first for Australia?
- What did both of the Australian cyclists do in the morning heats?
- What condition was Emily Petricola diagnosed with at the age of 27?
- Which former world cycling champion has guided Emily Petricola?
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1. Performance enhancing outfits and equipment
Draw a sketch of the uniforms and equipment used by competitors in track cycling. Label your sketch to point out any features that are designed to help in the sportsperson’s performance. (For example, the uniform may be skin-tight so that it is as aerodynamic as possible.)
Then, draw a design for some new and improved uniforms and equipment for this sport. For the purposes of this activity, imagine that there are no regulations and you are allowed to include any features you like as long as they are not harmful to any competitors.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education
Write a one-minute sales pitch for your new uniform and equipment design, convincing the team manager to purchase your product for their team.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Drama
Paralympic Word Splash
Let’s create a word splash. Sit with a partner, and between you, write the word PARALYMPICS in the middle of a piece of paper.
Decide who goes first. Then take it in turns to write a word around the central word that you associate with the Paralympics.
Keep a tally of how many words you can come up with. Your partner can challenge you to justify how or why the word is associated with the central word.
Did you come up with any wow words that you should share with your class and add to the Vocabulary display? Can you use them in a sentence?