New Zealand made quite the splash on day five of the Rio Paralympics. Statistics New Zealand has placed the country on top of the table for medals per capita, with the equivalent of 1.99 medals per million population.
Smashing her own world record and winning her eighth gold medal, 23-year-old swimmer Sophie Pascoe blew her competitors out of the water in the women’s 200m individual medley SM10 with a time of 2:24.90, her nearest rival Canadian Aurélie Rivard more than six seconds behind her. Along with her gold-medal win from the women’s 100m backstroke S11, Pascoe is now well on her way to becoming one of New Zealand’s most successful Paralympians of all time – with only two more golds needed.
Another stand-out Kiwi performance took place in the Velodrome with cyclists Emma Foy and Laura Thompson (sighted pilot) winning silver in the Women’s B 3000m Individual Pursuit.
Keeping to the theme of stand-out performances, there’s no chance of missing Iranian Paralympian Morteza Mehrzadselakjani at this year’s games. Mehrzadselakjani is head and shoulders above the rest, literally. Standing at a height 2.46 metres – over eight feet! – Mehrzadselakjani plays sitting volleyball and can hopefully use those long limbs to help take his team to podium!
In an incredible and, frankly, inspiring feat, four Paralympians have run the 1500m faster than any athlete at the Rio Olympics. Fouad Baka from Algeria finished with a time of 3:49.59 on Sunday in the men’s 1500m T12/13 final for the visually impaired. This means that if he’d run in the that same race back in August at the Olympics, he would have taken the gold medal from US athlete Matthew Centrowitz Jr, who finished in 3.50.00 – and Baka came in fourth place. It was actually Baka’s brother, Abdellatif Baka, who won the gold with a time of 3:48.29.