Sport Bronzed Aussie swimmers steal show at Tokyo Paralympics

Bronzed Aussie swimmers steal show at Tokyo Paralympics

The reaction to winning bronze left visually impaired swimmer Katja Dedekind – and Australia – in tears. Photo: 7Sport/Twitter
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Five years on, Katja Dedekind was the same tearful, joyful mess again when told on TV she’d won a Paralympic bronze medal.

The 20-year-old Queenslander took bronze in the S13 100m backstroke, one of four medals that Australia won on day two of the Tokyo Games.

Australia topped the medal tally after day one, but it hit a gold pause on Thursday with a silver and three bronze.

Dedekind, who is visually impaired, burst into tears on TV at the Rio Games when told she’d won an unexpected bronze in the 100m backstroke.

On Thursday, the same news came with a bonus of a personal best time and she was once again overcome with emotion.

“Oh, that’s awesome – a PB and a medal,” she told the Seven Network.

“Five years on, I’m doing the same thing again.

“It’s incredible, I just didn’t know what I was going to be able to do coming into competition.”

Dedekind clocked one minute 6.49 seconds as American Gia Pergolini broke her own world record to win in 1:04.64, with Italian Carlotta Gilli 1.46 seconds behind in second.

The other Australian medal in the pool on Thursday went to Kiera Stephens, who won bronze in the SB9 100m breaststroke.

Dutch star Chantalle Zijderveld broke her own world record with 1:10.99 and compatriot Lisa Kruger was 2.92 seconds behind, with Stephens 6.60 off the pace.

There is strong camaraderie among the trio, shown by their group hug at the end of the race.

“I am so excited right now, I fought so hard in that race,” Stephens, 18, said.

“I love the Dutch girls. We always keep in contact.”

Hicks will ride for the chance at a gold medal.
Darren Hicks won silver in the C2 individual pursuit on Thursday night.

Also on Thursday, track cyclist Darren Hicks won silver in the C2 individual pursuit after fastest qualifier Ewoud Vromont from Belgium was disqualified.

Hicks was third-fastest in qualifying and originally was riding for the bronze medal, but was elevated to the gold ride-off against French rider Alexandre Leaute.

Officials ruled Vromont, who like Hicks is a leg amputee, broke rules regarding a riders’ position on the bike.

Leaute broke the world record in the gold medal ride, easily beating Hicks.

Australian David Nicholas also had a convincing win in the bronze medal ride-off for the C3 individual pursuit.

After Wednesday’s shock loss to Denmark, the Steelers held off a fierce challenge from France to take out their must-win wheelchair rugby clash 50-48.

The Steelers have another big game on Friday against unbeaten Japan, with only the top two in the pool advancing to the semi-finals.

Australia has won the past two Paralympic gold medals, but lost the 2018 world championship final to Japan.

The Australian Steelers kept alive their Paralympics wheelchair rugby hopes after beating France. Photo: AP

Also on Thursday, the Rollers started their men’s wheelchair basketball campaign with an 81-39 demolition of Iran.

But the Gliders are 0-2 in the women’s competition after losing to Germany 77-58.

Australians Ma Lin, Sam von Einem and Joel Coughlan won their table tennis round-robin singles matches, but team co-captain Danni di Toro had another loss.

In equestrian, Australia’s Victoria Davies and Celere finished ninth in the Grade II dressage individual test.

Sharon Davis on Romanos was 10th in Grade IV.