Australian track and field star Maddy de Rozario has ended her long wait for a Paralympic gold medal with a dominating performance in the T53 800 metres.
The four-time Paralympian and three-time Games silver medallist took the lead just after 400 metres in Sunday night’s final at the Olympic Stadium and pulled clear for a convincing win.
She clocked one minute 45.99 seconds to break the Paralympic record and secure Australia’s eighth Tokyo gold medal.
The world record-holder and reigning world champion, who was recognised with a Barbie doll last year, beat China’s Zhou Hongzhuan by 1.67 seconds, with Swiss Catherine Debrunner taking the bronze.
— 7Sport (@7Sport) August 29, 2021
Six-time Paralympian Angie Ballard finished seventh and legendary wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage, who coaches de Rozario, was also trackside.
“They (Ballard and Sauvage) are two women who have been there every single point of my career, but also of my life,” de Rozario told the Seven Network.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without them here.”
The 27-year-old won silver in the 800 metres at Rio and also in the 4×400-metre relay.
She first took silver in the 4×100-metre relay at the 2008 Beijing Games.
De Rozario finished fifth two days ago in the T53 5000 metres.
⭐ @madiderozario :
Paralympic debut: Beijing 2008.
First Paralympic medal: Beijing 2008 ( #silver ).
First Paralympic #gold: Tokyo 2020, 29th August.#ParaAthletics #Paralympics #Tokyo2020 @AUSParalympics pic.twitter.com/kKnhG1yVJ0
— #ParaAthletics #Tokyo2020 (@ParaAthletics) August 29, 2021
She will next race the 1T54 500 on Monday and then the T54 marathon next Sunday on the last day of the Games.
Australia is eighth on the medal tally after day five with eight gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze.
Also on Sunday night, swimmer Jake Michel had a near-perfect Games debut when he was narrowly beaten in the final of the SB14 100-metre breaststroke.
Japan’s Naohide Yamaguchi broke his own world record to win in 1:03.77 and Michel was 0.51 of a second behind for the silver medal.
🥈SILVER FOR JAKE MICHEL🥈
In hist first major international event, Jake Michel came in hot with 1:04.28 to place 2nd in the 100m Breaststroke S14🔥
— Australian Swim Team (@DolphinsAUS) August 29, 2021
Ellie Cole, Isabella Vincent, Emily Beecroft and Ashleigh McConnell later took silver in the 34 points 4×100-metre freestyle relay behind Italy.
Also on Sunday night, sprinter Isis Holt won her second Tokyo silver in the T35 200m, with Zhou Xia of China breaking her own world record for the gold.
Zhou clocked 27.17 seconds and Holt set an area record of 27.94.
It's a silver double for Isis Holt 🥈🥈
What a Paralympic Games from the 20 year old, with world records required to beat her in both the Women's 100m and 200m T35 events. How good is it to see her back in the green and gold 💛💚 #ThisIsAthletics #ReadySetTokyo pic.twitter.com/TNUQ3WOOeL
— Athletics Australia (@AthsAust) August 29, 2021
Top seeds Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson will defend their quad doubles Paralympic title, beating Japan’s Mitsuteru Moroishi and Koji Sugeno 6-2 6-4 in their semi-final.
Sam Von Einem won his second-straight Games silver medal, losing 3-2 to world No.1 Hungarian Peter Palos in the Class 11 table tennis gold medal match.
The Australian saved two match points before going down 11-6 7-11 11-7 11-6 11-9.
SILVER for Australia!
— AUS Paralympic Team (@AUSParalympics) August 29, 2021
But the Steelers’ campaign for a third straight Paralympics gold medal ended with a 60-52 torching from Japan in their bronze medal game – the first time they have missed out on the medals since 2004.
Earlier on Sunday, Lauren Parker lost her PTWC triathlon by just 0.01 of a second for the silver medal, with American Kendall Gretsch overtaking the Australian within metres of the finish.
Erik Horrie won his third Paralympics silver medal in the single sculls, making history as the first rower to win three medals at the Games.
In the earlier session at the track and field, 45-year-old grandmother Sarah Edmiston took bronze in the F64 discus.
Fellow West Australian athlete Robyn Lambird also won bronze in the T34, clocking a season-best time.
The Rollers’ unbeaten start to the Games ended on Sunday when the United States thumped them 66-38 in wheelchair basketball.