Tokyo, Japan (AFP) — German sprinter Felix Streng stormed his way to Paralympic gold in the T64 100m in Tokyo on Monday, dethroning British rival Jonnie Peacock who ended up sharing the bronze after a photo finish.
The track thriller saw Streng finish in 10.76 seconds, short of the Paralympic record he set just a day earlier in heats, but ahead of Costa Rica's Sherman Isidro Guity Guity, who took silver.
After several tense minutes, the decision came back – a shared bronze, with both Peacock and Germany's Johannes Flores coming in at precisely 10.78 seconds.
The pair beamed as they received their flags to join the other medallists.
“It felt amazing,” Streng said afterwards of his win.
“I'm so happy that I could execute a race and win in such a competitive field.”
The race was one of the last on the sixth day of competition in Tokyo, with records again tumbling from the track to the pool.
At Tokyo's Aquatics Centre, 16-year-old Jiang Yuyan won her first Paralympic gold in the S6 50m butterfly final, after smashing her own world record in the heats.
“This is my first Paralympic experience, and in terms of my personal goals, it's a self-confidence boost,” the teenager told AFP straight after her winning swim.
“Of course, it's very exciting. But most of all, I think it's the beginning of the next chapter of my life.”
Jiang was nearly killed when she was run over by a truck as a three-year-old, but by 14 she was breaking world records and had earned the nickname Flying Fish.
She is the youngest member of China's Paralympic team, which continues to top the medal table — as it has at every Games since Athens 2004.
'An inspiration for other girls'
Earlier Monday, International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons paid tribute to two Afghan athletes who escaped from Kabul after the country's fall to the Taliban this month.
Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrived in Tokyo over the weekend after a complex international effort that saw them evacuated to France, where they rested and trained, before flying to Japan.
Parsons said Monday that receiving the pair in Tokyo was “a moment I will remember for the rest of my life”.
“It was just incredible to feel that we had contributed in some way,” he added.
Sprinter Rasouli will take part in the men's T47 long jump on Tuesday, having arrived too late for his favoured T47 100m.
Khudadadi will compete in the women's -49kg K44 taekwondo on Thursday.
Parsons said he hoped the pair would be able to “really focus on sport and forget, for a few days at least, what they left behind and the horror that they have been through in their home nation”.
Monday also saw the medal ceremony for the winners of the women's swimming 4x100m — 34 points, which was delayed from Sunday after the US team lodged a protest over their disqualification.
The team thought they had come away with the silver, but the second spot was instead handed to Australia after judges disqualified the US side for an illegal changeover.
Their protest was denied by a referee and an appeal to a jury was also rejected.
Also stepping onto the podium Monday was Francisca Mardones Sepulveda, who became the first Chilean woman ever to win a Paralympic medal in any sport.
The 43-year-old shot putter won the F54 category and broke her own world record with a throw of 8.33 metres.
The Chilean competed at the London and Rio Games in wheelchair tennis, but later switched to athletics, and is competing in shot put, discus, and javelin in Tokyo.
“I want to be an inspiration for other girls that will start approaching the sport to become enthusiastic for it,” she said after her win.
“I will tell them to believe in their dreams and in themselves, thinking that whatever goal they have, they can achieve it.”
In the Paralympic village, organisers said Monday they would resume operation of a self-driving bus service that was suspended after a vehicle hit a visually impaired Japanese judoka.
Toyota, which operates the vehicles, said safety improvements had been made, including making the buses' warning noise louder, and the system would begin running again from Tuesday.