Paralympics: NZ need flurry of medals to reach target

Sophie Pascoe has won five medals in these Games. Photo / Getty Images.
Sophie Pascoe has won five medals in these Games. Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand Paralympic bosses targeted 18 medals from the London Games and it will mean they will need to finish strongly on the final day of competition if they are to achieve that.

No medals were added overnight (NZT) to the tally of 14 won so far, with Wellington's Mary Fisher coming closest when she was under two seconds off the podium in the S11 400m freestyle. But there are high expectations of more hardware tonight with a number of strong contenders.

Sophie Pascoe, who has won five medals in these Games on top of the four she won in Beijing, completes her busy schedule with the SB9 women's 100m breaststroke, Fisher will race in her favoured SM11 women's 200m individual medley, Tim Prendergast hits the track after qualifying third fastest in the 800m and Phillipa Gray and Laura Thompson are on the bike for the last time at Brands Hatch in the individual B women's road race.

Fisher swiped 10 seconds off the Oceania record, clocking five minutes 22.09 seconds in the S11 400m freestyle.

The 19-year-old had already broken the old Oceania record in her heat in the morning, before going even faster in the final. Germany's Daniela Sculte won in 5:14.36.

Fisher has snared two silvers and a bronze already and was hopeful of adding another on the final day of competition.

"Tomorrow it's all on again," she said.

"The crowd is amazing. I can't put it into words how good it is to be standing behind the blocks, being a finalist at the Paralympic Games and you've got 17,000 people cheering really loudly and then they go completely silent for the start. It's been an amazing experience."

Prendergast is due to race in front of considerably more in his last event, which could be his last ever in his fourth Paralympic Games.

He qualified third fastest in the T13 800m in front of 80,000 people, stopping the clock at 1:58.21. He was 21 seconds behind top qualifier Abdelillah Mame of Morocco, but was ecstatic with his race, knowing he had control of it the whole way.

"I just had to reach the final and anything can happen. I'm feeling pretty good and this crowd is something else."

Cyclist Sue Reid hung tough on the gruelling H1-3 road race, but things were again made difficult for athletes by the fact so many races take place on the 8km motor raceway circuit at the same time.

Reid finished eighth in two hours and 39 seconds, but was unable to catch the winner from America who took the chequered flag in 1:41.34.

The issues on the track were highlighted yesterday when the first-placed woman in the C4-5, Sarah Storey, caught up with the men's race inside the first lap, despite the men's field setting off two minutes ahead of the women.

- APNZ

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