Jason Smyth Emulates Bolt, Controversy On Track

September 10, 2016

After an explosive first day of Paralympic action, day two had a lot to live up to -- and it didn't disappoint.

Daniel Dias got one of three gold medals for the host nation on the opening day and there was plenty more action for the locals to get excited about, including their favorite sport: football.

Ireland's sprint star Jason Smyth was looking to make history and there was plenty of controversy on the track for one British athlete.

Emulating Bolt?

Plenty was written about Usain Bolt's historic "triple-triple,", but one Irish sprinter matched the Jamaican by winning his third consecutive Paralympic gold.

After claiming the T13 100m title in Beijing and London, Smyth made it three in a row on Friday, finishing 0.14s ahead of Namibia's Johannes Nambala in a time of 10.64s.

The 29-year-old cruised into the final in Thursday's heats, recording 10.76s and, much like Bolt, could afford to slow down before the end and coast over the line.

Smyth was the overwhelming favorite to defend his title, but had to produce his best with Nambala running a personal best in the final. Australia's Chad Perris took bronze in 10.83s.

The Irishman is also reigning Paralympic champion in the 200m but won't have the opportunity to win a "triple-double," after the International Paralympic Committee opted to drop the event from the Games.

"It's been incredible," he told reporters after the race.

"It's my third consecutive Paralympic Games and fifth gold medal. To be honest, it's a little bit like a fairytale. I keep wondering when this fairytale is going to end but thankfully it doesn't."

Smyth, who is also the world record holder, was diagnosed with Stargardt's Disease as a boy and it has left him with less than 10% of his vision.

He has also competed in able-bodied meets, clocking a personal best of 10.22s.

Disqualified... then not

It was certainly a day of mixed emotion's for Team GB's Libby Clegg.

After smashing the world record in her T11 100m semifinal, the 26-year-old was informed by officials that she had been disqualified.

Her guide, Chris Clarke, was adjudged to have illegally pulled her in the middle of the race by being more than a stride length ahead.

However, after a successful appeal from ParalympicsGB, Clegg was reinstated along her world record of 11.91s -- the first time she had run sub-12 seconds in her career.

Clegg and Clarke put the drama of disqualification behind them and stormed to victory in the final, edging out China's Guohua Zhou by two one-hundredths of a second to add a gold to her two silvers from London and Beijing.

"To be honest, it's not really hit me just yet but I'm obviously over the moon. These things (disqualification) happen and you gotta get on with it and hope for the best."

Her guide Clarke said of the disqualification: "Libby handled it well, I was fuming! But Libby was calm.

"It's been absolutely fantastic. Obviously she had a change of guide back in November and we starting working in February.

"It's been quick getting me into it, but she did all the work and I'm just here like John Terry."

Brazil begins gold medal defense

No matter how or where Brazil plays football, it seems to be good at it.

After Neymar and Co. inspired the national with gold at the Olympic Games, the 5-a-side team will be hoping to do the same.

But while the Barcelona superstar and his teammates were always met by a raucous Maracana, the 5-a-side players were met with complete silence.

Not because they had disappointed the crowd, but because the blind players need the silence to hear the rattle of the ball.

This was never more apparent than when the ball fell to Nonato in the box during the first half.

With Brazil trailing, a nervous cheer went up from a crowd so accustomed to roaring on their countrymen, causing the striker to miss the ball.

While all players suffer from some form of visual impairment -- apart from the goalkeeper who is fully sighted and acts as a guide -- they still wear blindfolds as a leveler.

Gold medalists from London four years ago, Brazil began its defense with a 3-1 win over Morocco, despite the African nation taking a shock lead in the first half.

Sister Act

As Tatyana and Hannah McFadden lined up on the start line in the T54 100m final, few will have known what both had been through to get there.

Tatyana, born with spina bifida and paralyzed from the waist down, was discovered as a child in a Russian orphanage by Debbie McFadden, the US Commissioner for Disabilities at the time.

Her sister, Hannah, was born with no left fibula or femur and adopted from Albania two years later.

Already a 10-time Paralympic medalist, Tatyana is going for seven more medals in Rio, ranging from the marathon to the 100m.

Despite the shortest event being her weakest, the 27-year-old claimed the silver medal, while Hannah came fourth.

"I am so pleased with silver because in London I got bronze," she said. "My start was bad but i finished strongly -- I'm so happy.

"It means everything to me that my parents are here, they're my number one support."

Peacock spreads his wings

After achieving overnight stardom for his blistering T44 100m gold medal in his home Games at London 2012, Jonnie Peacock was the man to beat in Rio.

Despite a disappointing few months in the build up, the 23-year-old has developed a knack for turning it on when it counts.

Peacock contracted meningitis as a child and his mum was told by doctors to expect the worst.

He survived but the illness caused him to have his lower right leg amputated. Peacock was totally dominant and the only athlete in the field to run sub-11 seconds in the final, holding off Kiwi Liam Malone and Germany's Felix Streng.

"It's times like this where you have to look back on your experience as an athlete, there's so much pressure and it's so easy to get distracted.

"I would like to thanks everyone, too many to name, but thanks to my mum and my girlfriend, who has probably not enjoyed my stress over the last few months."


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