Team USA picks up five medals in track and field
LONDON — Saturday night at the track was one to remember. Team USA took home five medals on the last night of competition in the Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, highlighted by Raymond Martin winning his fourth gold medal of the Games in the mens 200m (T46), Jeff Skiba winning silver in the high jump (F46), and Tatyana McFadden winning bronze in the 100m (T54).
The most exciting medals of the night were won by Blake Leeper and David Prince. The two competed in the final event of the night along with fellow American Jarryd Wallace against Oscar Pistorius in front of an electric crowd.
Similar to last night, when Leeper listened to McFadden's medal ceremony, the American sprinters were able to hear the Star-Spangled Banner just seconds before competing, thanks to Martin.
“To be able to sing the Star Spangled Banner before the race just calms you down and gets you focused and makes you remember what you’re here for and what you are representing,” said Wallace, who competed in the men's 400m - T44.
While Pistorius truly ran away with the gold medal, finishing with a personal record time of 46.68 seconds. Leeper and Price used the adrenaline boost from the anthem to break records of their own. Leeper improved upon his Americas regional record finishing with a time of 50.14 and Prince set a T44 world record with a time of 50.61. Wallace finished sixth clocking in at 53.90 seconds.
Leeper, who competed in his first race only two years ago was ecstatic with his silver finish. “I'm going to see my family and then I might cry, and then I'll sit looking at my medals for the rest of the night," he said.
Raymond Martin, the source of the inspirational anthem remarkably cruised to his fourth gold medal finish in as many tries in the men’s 400m. “Its unreal. Getting a sweep of my class was just a pie in the sky dream coming to this Games but I had no idea I’d make it a reality.”
Martin was impressed by the Olympic stadium and will surely be excited when faced with the opportunity to compete in Rio 2016, “It's my first Games, so I had no idea what to expect, incredible. Everything has been beyond my dreams. It's unreal. It doesn't get better than this - a sold-out Olympic stadium. Just unreal.”
In the women’s 100m (T52), Tatyana and Hannah McFadden became the first siblings to ever compete in a final for Team USA in a Paralympic Games. While it was Tatyana’s fourth final of the London Games, tonight’s race was Hannah’s first Paralympic final of her life. Tatyana’s quest for a fourth gold medal was thwarted by Liu Wenjun of China who set a new world record with a time of 15.82 seconds. Dong Hongjiao of China came in second place with a time of 15.86 seconds, good enough for a personal best. Tatyana Mc Fadden took third place with a time of 16.15 seconds. Her sister Hannah finished the race in eighth place.
Tatyana will join four Americans for her final event of the 2012 London Paralympic Games in the women’s marathon - T54 tomorrow morning.
Competing for the USA in the high jump were Richard Browne and Jeff Skiba. Browne cleared 1.80 meters but that was as high as he got. Skiba, the defending champion from Beijing, took second place in the competition. He cleared 2.04 meters but lost to Maciej Lepiato of Poland who set a new world record of 2.12 meters.
In the women’s 400m (T53) Final, Anjali Forber Pratt, Jessica Galli, and Shirley Riley all raced for Team USA. The three missed the medal stand with Forber Pratt finishing seventh, Jessica Galli finishing fifth, and Reilly finishing fourth.
Reilly who will be joining McFadden in the marathon tomorrow was disappointed but not discouraged, “The 400m is not my strongest race, but I gave it my best and unfortunately was a spot away from bronze. Hopefully I can come back in four years and do better.”
The women’s marathon (T54) will take place at 11:32 a.mm Sunday morning and will feature Americans Amanda McGrory, Tatyana McFadden, Christina Schwab, Susannah Scaroni, and Shirley Reilly.
The men’s marathon (T54) will start two minutes earlier than the women’s and feature Americans Adam Bleakney, Ryan Chalmers, Joshua George, Aaron Pike, Krige Schabort, and Brian Seimaan.
Chris Hammer is the lone American competing in the men’s marathon (T46) at 8 a.m. local time.