Paralympics: NZ's golden start

If Sophie Pascoe wanted to let her actions do the talking at the Paralympics then the Christchurch swimmer opened her campaign with an almighty roar, wiping three seconds off the 200m individual medley world record in the final as she claimed gold this morning.

Pascoe swallowed the old record of 2:29.35 which stood ahead of the London Games and now has her name beside 2:25.65 after she took half a second off the old mark in her heat before stepping up in the final.

The defending Paralympic champion rocketed out of the blocks, continually increasing her lead with each turn. Even her breaststroke which has predominantly been her weaker discipline was equally as impressive as the other three.

Speaking after her heat Pascoe summed up her race by suggesting everything had gone to plan.

"I wanted to go out nice and calm, I went out fast and just relaxed into my four strokes, I usually go out too fast in the first 50 (metres) but I definitely relaxed it.

"We've been working on the breaststroke for the past year, it's a hard stroke and the field for breaststroke is incredible, it's one of the things we wanted to work on as well as the freestyle, that's the last 100 to come home in, so I just had to push that 50 in the breaststroke.''

With a world record and a gold medal, Pascoe's delight was written all over her face, but the determined 19-year-old knows there will be plenty of time for celebrating.

"I might treat myself to have a little extra dessert,'' joked Pascoe, before putting the serious look back on her face. "My main focus now is the next five races, I came here for six and this is just one so bring on the next five.''

The main lesson Pascoe said she learnt from today's performance was her preparation has been right on song, and she won't be changing a thing.

"I'm quite a picky time planner, everything has to be perfect, the whole camp back in our village has our time plan, they know when to talk to me, when not to talk to me, so that's the preparation that I need to go into these five races. Have a good sleep and it's the 50 [freestyle] tomorrow.''

Pascoe's gold is New Zealand's second medal of the day after Northland cyclist Fiona Southorn won bronze in the C5 women's Individual Pursuit.

The 44-year-old real estate agent, competing in her third games, finished behind Great Britain's Sarah Storey, who took gold, and Anna Harkowska from Poland.

"I can't believe it, no, it's incredible, I'm getting faster with age, so bring on the next one," said Southorn, who has a limb deficiency in her left arm.

Southorn finished well ahead of Great Britain's Crystal Lane in the ride off for bronze, beating her by seven seconds.

"I was a bit possessed because I wanted that bronze medal, I went hard out this morning so I didn't have quite as much left but I still gave it my best shot."

In other results Rebecca Dubber finished fifth in the women's 100m Backstroke - S7 final, just half a second out of the medals, while Taranaki cyclist Nathan Smith came 23rd in the C1-3 men's kilo at the velodrome.

New Zealand sit in 11th on the medal table.

- APNZ/HERALD ONLINE

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