Curtis McGrath sweeps to second gold in VL3 200m canoe sprint
Queenslander Curtis McGrath stormed home to win the VL3 200m canoe sprint race, backing up his 200m KL2 success from earlier in the Paralympic Games. The 33-year-old world champion triumphed as the race made its Games debut. The discipline involves racing in a va’a – an outrigger canoe with a single-blade paddle.
A former soldier, McGrath, who lost his legs on service in Afghanistan, said the third medal of his career was one to treasure. “Being a debut event, wanting to put my foot down on the sport and maintain my undefeated status in the event was something that meant a lot to me, and I’m very happy to achieve that,” he said.
“The initial goal was to come here and stand on top of the podium twice … I’m very happy with the double gold. This last one here is really special.”
Elsewhere on the water, Susan Seipel finished seventh in the women’s kayak single 200m KL2 final.
On the track, Wollongong’s James Turner won silver after a contentious start in the men’s T36 100 metres, with the runner beside him moving on the line. The 25-year-old was visibly annoyed he didn’t collect a second gold after his 400m title, and he was hot favourite for the double entering the sprint final as world record holder and fastest qualifier.
The unsettled field was re-set before Malaysian athlete Mohamad Puzi, who was in the lane next to Turner, moved on the line which put the Australian off. After his poor start Turner powered through the field to land a silver behind China’s Deng Peicheng in a time of 11.85, well off his world mark of 11.72.
Australian officials considered lodging a protest but it would have likely only seen fourth-placed Puzi disqualified rather than a re-run. Turner said he only had himself to blame. “I absolutely let myself get distracted,” he told Channel Seven. “I saw movement next to me and my body wanted to go with it and I let it so I’ve really got to put the blinders on for next time. It was my mistake to let that get to me and I’ve got to learn from it.”
In other early results on the track, Rheed McCracken finished sixth in the men’s 800m T34 final.
In the pool, Tim Disken helped Australia win relay silver only three days after the death of his mother. Disken was part of the 4x100m medley relay team that finished second in Friday night’s final event of the swimming program.
“We lost my mum on Tuesday night and just trying to get up to race tonight was hard in itself,” Disken told the Seven Network. “The support from the team has been phenomenal. I couldn’t be in a better spot for the heartbreak I’ve had over the last 72 hours. To be able to pull that out and get a silver with my mates … I’m so proud.”
Disken combined with Will Martin, Tim Hodge and Ben Popham in the medley relay.