LONDON: Australia’s Jacqueline Freney on Monday won her fourth gold medal of the Games and Britain’s swim queen Ellie Simmonds bagged her second, as a row involving sprinter Oscar Pistorius overshadowed the action.
World record holder Freney, 20, 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.
She was also going in the women’s 4x100m freestyle 34 points relay, hoping to make it five golds – and a clean sweep for the Aussies after the men’s team struck gold on Sunday.
In that race, Matthew Cowdrey bagged his 10th Paralympic title in a career spanning three Games, with just one more top spot to get to become his country’s most successful Paralympian.
Simmonds, 17, 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 she won at the weekend.
“I’m so pleased. The swim was quite hard but to do a personal best this morning and a second now (3min 05.39sec, also a world record), I’m just enjoying every moment of this. To get a second gold is amazing,” she said.
“The crowd going mental definitely pushes you on and gives you that home advantage that you need.”
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.
Meanwhile Poland’s Natalia Partyka - one of only two Paralympians to compete at this year’s Olympics – was out to win the women’s single Class 10 table tennis title at the ExCeL centre.
Partyka, who was born without a right hand and forearm, was taking on China’s Yang Qian just weeks after she and sprinter Oscar Pistorius competed at the Olympics.
Pistorius, of South Africa, dominated the Games 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 Pistorius, 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 but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong,” he said in a statement.
The International Paralympic Committee (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.
“He’s a proud Paralympian. He’s been a fantastic ambassador for the Paralympic movement. He’s probably done more than anyone to raise our profile,” said IPC spokesman Craig Spence.
“We’re more than willing to hear what he has to say.”
The row erupted as 50 medals were on offer in seven sports on the fifth day of competition at Games, which end on Sunday.
In the overall medal table, China were way out in front and crossed the 100 medal mark, with 44 gold by the start of the evening sessions, with Britain in second and Australia. Russia and Ukraine were battling it out in fourth and fifth spots.
Elsewhere, defending champions the Australian Rollers cruised into the quarter-finals of the wheelchair basketball, beating Italy 68-48 to top their group.
Australia are favourites for the title with the United States and Canada, both of whom also advanced to the knock-out phase.