LONDON - Australia’s Jacqueline Freney on Monday won her fifth gold of the Games in the stand-out performance of the day, after a row involving sprinter Oscar Pistorius overshadowed the sporting action.
World record holder Freney, who has cerebral palsy, took gold in a new Paralympic best of 1min 9.39sec in the S7 100m freestyle to add to her titles in the S7 50m butterfly, S7 100m backstroke and SM7 200m individual medley.
Then with team-mates Ellie Cole, Madison Elliott and Katherine Downey, the 20-year-old added the women’s 4x100m freestyle 34 points relay, making it a clean sweep for the Aussies after the men’s team triumphed on Sunday.
In that race, Matthew Cowdrey bagged his 10th Paralympic title in a career spanning three Games, needing just one more gold to become his country’s most successful Paralympian.
“It’s absolutely incredible, I can’t explain how happy I am,” said Freney afterwards. “I’ve got eight events and my main one hasn’t even started yet, so these are just bonuses to me. Icing on the cake.”
Earlier Britain’s swim queen Ellie Simmonds won the women’s S6 200m individual medley in 3min 5.39sec, breaking the world record she set in qualifying and adding to her S6 400m freestyle title.
The teenager, who has a form of dwarfism, won the 400m and the 100m freestyle in Beijing four years ago at the age of just 13 and has become one of the faces of the London Games.
Poland’s Natalia Partyka — one of only two Paralympians to compete at this year’s Olympics — won gold for the third consecutive Games in the women’s singles Class 10 table tennis.
“It has been a really good year for me, now I’m thinking about Rio (de Janeiro in 2016). To win a medal at the Olympics is now my dream. I want to achieve the same at the Olympics as I did at the Paralympics,” she said.
Partyka, who was born without a right hand and forearm, beat China’s Yang Qian 3-2, just weeks after she and Pistorius competed at the Olympics.
Pistorius dominated the headlines on Monday after he sensationally lost his T44 200m crown to Brazil’s Alan Oliveira on Sunday but then claimed the length of his rivals’ artificial running blades was unfair.
The 25-year-old South African, a double amputee since childhood, issued an apology about the timing of the comments, although not the substance.
“I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong,” he said in a statement.
The IPC responded by saying the prostheses used by all eight runners in the final were legitimate and had not exceeded rules regarding length.
Nevertheless, they agreed to meet Pistorius to discuss his concerns.
The row erupted as 50 gold medals were on offer in seven sports on the fifth day of competition at the Games, which end on Sunday.
On the track, El Amin Chentouf of Morocco smashed the world best by more than 30sec in the T12 5,000m for visually impaired and blind athletes, finishing in 13min 53.77sec.
Kenya’s Samwel Mushai Kimani, with guide runner James Boit, romped to a new world record of 3min 58.37 in the T11 1,500m, beating Brazil’s Odair Santos, who was also inside his previous world best of 4min 03.66sec.
Wheelchair racer Ryan Martin of the United States added the T52 400m to his 100m title while Ireland’s Michael McKillop outclassed the field to take the middle-distance double in the T37 1,500m for athletes with cerebral palsy.
The Northern Ireland-born 22-year-old, who had already successfully retained his 800m title from Beijing, had enough of a lead over Australia’s Brad Scott and Mohammed Charmi of Tunisia to begin celebrating in the back straight.
Fiji and India also got in the medals, with Iliesa Delana, an amputee, winning gold in the men’s F42 high jump, with Girisha Nagarajegowda Hosanagara winning silver.
China were way out in front in the overall medal table, crossing the 100 medal mark and nearing 50 golds, with Britain in second and Australia, Russia and Ukraine battling it out for third spot.