BEIJING, China - After setting the world record (1:01.15) in the men's 100m backstroke (S10) this morning, Justin Zook (Plymouth, Minn.) came back for tonight's finals to check off his second goal of the event: win gold. With a time of 1:01.29, Zook edged out Michael Anderson (AUS) by .18 seconds for the top spot on the podium.
"I wanted both, the world record and the gold. Getting the world record out of the way this morning let me focus on just winning gold tonight," said Zook. "During the past year, I've been through a lot. If anything, it feels good to do it for my parents. They've done so much for me and put so much money and effort into getting me here, so I'm glad to be giving something back to them."
Jarrett Perry (Colorado Springs, Colo./Wichita, Kan.), who set a world record (1:03.47) in the men's 100m backstroke during preliminaries, battled in one of the closest races of the night, taking bronze in the men's 100m backstroke (S9). His time of 1:03.66 was only .32 seconds away from gold medalist Matthew Cowdrey's (AUS) world record race.
For the U.S. women, Elizabeth Stone (Grand Rapids, Mich.), who was seeded fourth coming out of prelims, had another personal best race (1:11.16) to win the silver medal in the women's 100m backstroke (S9.)
"For four years, I've been working so hard to get a medal," said Stone. "I'm so excited. I wanted to make sure I didn't go to another Paralympics and not medal. Now I have one to show."
Erin Popovich (Fort Collins, Colo./Silverbow, Mont.), who already has four gold medals from the meet, took silver in the women's 50m butterfly (S7) with a time of 37.87. Min Huang (CHN) set a world record (34.47) in the event, winning gold.
"I gave it everything to swim as fast a race as I could," said Popovich. "Any medal in the Paralympic Games is a huge accomplishment and I'm very pleased to win the silver."
The U.S. team continues to drop time, swimming personal bests in all races. "This was a great night. We're swimming fast," said Julie O'Neill (Colorado Springs, Colo.), head coach, U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team. "Right now, about 90% of our races are best times. Since day one of competition, we've dropped almost five minutes from our overall time due to personal best races. That is an unbelievable amount of time for this level of competition."
Susan Beth Scott (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cape Girardeau, Mo.), who has finished every race during the Games with a personal best, finished fourth in the women's 100m backstroke (S10.) Her time of 1:13.97 was only .2 away from the bronze medalist, Esther Morales (ESP.)
"Across the board, the number of athletes making finals, being in medal contention or winning medals - whether it's one medal or five - is higher than any previous world championship or Paralympic competition," said O'Neill. So far, 15 of the 18 women and 16 of the 20 men on the team have advanced to finals. With two more days of competition, the U.S. can expect that number to climb even higher.
The U.S. Swimming Team maintains its top rank in the medal standings with 15 gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze medals.
U.S. Results (Finals)
Men's 100m Backstroke (S12) - Tucker Dupree (Raleigh, N.C.) - 1:04.08 (5)
Women's 50m Butterfly (S6) -Casey Johnson (Cypress, Calif.) - 42.35 (6)
Women's 50m Butterfly (S6) - Miranda Uhl (Alachua, Fla.) - 42.50 (7)
Men's 50m Butterfly (S7) - Lantz Lamback (Colorado Springs, Colo./Augusta, Ga.) - 34.56 (8)
Women's 50m Butterfly (S7) - Erin Popovich (Fort Collins, Colo./Silverbow, Mont.) -37.87 (2)
Men's 100m Backstroke (S9) - Jarrett Perry (Colorado Springs, Colo./Wichita, Kan.) - 1:03.66 (3)
Men's 100m Backstroke (S9) - Cody Bureau (Colorado Springs, Colo./Latrobe, Pa.) - 1:05.47 (5)
Men's 100m Backstroke (S9) - Michael Prout (West Springfield, Mass.) - 1:08.09 (8)
Women's 100m Backstroke (S9) - Elizabeth Stone (Grand Rapids, Mich.) - 1:11.16 (2)
Men's 100m Backstroke (S10) - Justin Zook (Plymouth, Minn.) - 1:01.29 (1)
Women's 100m Backstroke (S10) - Susan Beth Scott (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cape Girardeau, Mo.) - 1:13.97 (4)
Men's 50m Freestyle (S2) - Curtis Lovejoy (Atlanta, Ga.) - 1:12.59 (6)
Men's 50m Freestyle (S3) - Michael DeMarco (San Diego, Calif.) - 1:01.69 (7)
Women's 50m Freestyle (S3) - Beth Kolbe (Tiffin, Ohio) - 1:10.55 (5)
"Everyone else stepped it up and it was an awesome race. I'm not happy with the way I swam, but I'm very happy with medaling."
"I just wanted to go out and have a strong race. [Huang Min (CHN)] took it out fast and had a better race than me... hats off to her. China is having a phenomenal meet. They've obviously trained hard and have a great home crowd behind them."
On her final race of the meet, Sunday's 50m freestyle (S7): "It's been a great competition and I want to go out with a bang. I'm going to give it everything I have and go out strong."
"I had a really good time. This whole meet has been great for me so far. I've had personal bests in everything I've raced."
For complete swimming results, visit http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRMP/ENG/Schedule/SW.shtml.
For more information, please contact Tara Dugan Kusumoto at 139 1063 1844. If calling from the U.S., dial 011 86 plus the local number.