Pongsakorn wins first gold for Thais

Pongsakorn wins first gold for Thais

Athiwat settles for silver in close tussle

Thai wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men's 400m T53 competition in a new world record time at the Tokyo Paralympics on Sunday.
Thai wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men's 400m T53 competition in a new world record time at the Tokyo Paralympics on Sunday.

Wheelchair racer Pongsakorn Paeyo broke the world record as he won Thailand's first gold medal at the Paralympic Games at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

Thailand's wait for its first gold medal at the Covid-delayed tournament ended on day five of competition after the 24-year-old from Khon Kaen retained his 400m T53 title with a time of 46.61, breaking Canadian Brent Lakatos' old mark of 46.82 set in June 2019.

Pongsakorn, who also set a new Paralympic record of 47.31 earlier in the day, won both the T53 400m and 800m events at the Rio Paralympic Games five years ago.

Lakatos came second in 46.75 while Vitalii Gritsenko of the Russian Paralympic Committee was third in 49.41.

Pichet Krungget, the other Thai in the race, finished fifth in 49.96.

Former world champion Pongsakorn will defend his 800m T53 title on Thursday.

Another Thai wheelchair racer Athiwat Paeng-nuea missed out on a 400m T54 gold medal by a fraction of a second as Daniel Romanchuk of the United States crossed the finish line in 45.72 while the 18-year-old Thai clocked 45.73.

It was a disappointment for Paralympic debutant Athiwat, who set a new Games' record of 44.87 in the heat.

China's Dai Yungquiang was third on 46.20 while two other Thais Saichon Konjen and Putharet Khongrak, who won the T54 5,000m bronze on Saturday, came fourth and eighth respectively.

High jumper Angkarn Chanaboon finished seventh in the men's T47 final with a leap of 1.89m. The gold medal went to Roderick Townsend with a new world record of 2.15m.

Table tennis star Rungroj Thainiyom and wheelchair fencer Saysunee Jana also won bronze for the Kingdom.

Meanwhile Afghanistan's athletes were in tears when they finally arrived in Tokyo, officials said, as Britain's wheelchair rugby team won one of 63 golds up for grabs on Super yesterday.

Afghanistan's Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli were evacuated to France last weekend from the Taliban-controlled country in a "major global operation", the International Paralympic Committee said.

"The meeting at the athletes' village was extremely emotional. There were lots of tears from everyone in the room," said IPC spokesperson Craig Spence.

Spence said the Afghanistan flag appearing at Tuesday's Opening Ceremony had been the "first step to keep the door open" to the athletes and their arrival was "a very strong message of hope to many others around the world".

Khudadadi will compete in the women's -49kg K44 taekwondo on Thursday. Sprinter Rasouli will take part in the men's T47 long jump tomorrow having arrived too late for his favoured T47 100m.

At the athletics stadium, world record holder Oksana Zubkovska of Ukraine won the T12 long jump with a leap of 5.54 metres while British great Hannah Cockroft smashed her own women's T34 100m world record as she won a sixth Paralympic gold medal and third in a row in this event, with fellow Brit Kare Adenegan following her home for silver.

"I honestly didn't know that time was within me," said Cockroft.

Britain beat the United States 54-49 in the final to win their first ever wheelchair rugby gold.

The Brits had never previously won a medal in the event, but a heroic effort edged out the Americans, who were looking to improve on the silver they claimed five years ago in Rio.

Japan beat Australia 60-52 to take the bronze, leaving the Aussies -- who went into the competition looking for a third straight gold -- going home empty handed.

The day began with American Kendall Gretsch snatching triathlon gold right on the line in a dramatic finish after Australia's Lauren Parker had led almost the entire race at Odaiba Marine Park yesterday.

Parker was hampered by backmarkers on the final lap, with the crucial seconds lost enabling Gretsch to reel her in to win by less than the length of her wheelchair.

In the swimming pool, Japan's Naohide Yamaguchi setting a new world record of 1min, 3.77sec in the men's 100m breaststroke SB14.

Two athletes have tested positive for Covid in the Paralympic village, the IPC announced, among 11 new Games-related cases.

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