RIO DE JANEIRO — It was another stars and stripes sweep on Thursday evening as the U.S. collected six medals, two gold, one silver and two bronze, on the eighth day of track & field competition at Olympic Stadium.
The “Mc-trio” of Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland), Chelsea McClammer (Richland, Washington) and Amanda McGrory (Savoy, Illinois) combined once again for gold, silver and bronze in the women’s 5000-meter T54 after sweeping the women’s 1500 two nights ago. Tonight, the teammates at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign orchestrated the race beautifully, with McFadden making her move in the final lap to grab gold in 11:54.07. The spots were switched from Tuesday, as McClammer edged McGrory by one-hundredth of a second to steal silver.
“We train together, so we work really, really well together,” McFadden said. “There’s no one I want more on the podium than my teammates. I think the whole world was looking at us and we were looking at them and we said ‘hey, we’re going to work together’. We’re stronger that way and it definitely showed today.”
Two hours later, McFadden and McClammer pulled double duty with the 4x400 T53/54 relay. They were joined by Hannah McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland) and Cheri Madsen (Union, Nebraska), finishing with silver behind the People’s Republic of China but were ultimately disqualified, though it is currently under review.
Two-time Paralympian Ray Martin (Jersey City, Jersey) won his third medal and second gold in the men’s 1500 T52. The 22-year-old took the lead early before leveling with Tomoki Sato of Japan until the last 200 meters when Martin’s strong kick helped him cross the finish line first in 3:40.63 for a Paralympic record. Martin, who has medaled in every event he’s entered at the Paralympic Games since London, is still moved by the melody of the national anthem when sitting atop of the podium.
“It doesn’t [get old],” Martin said. “I ran the 400 a couple of days ago and heard the anthem. It was just like London 2012 at my first race. Once you hear it the first time on the podium, you get this itch to hear it every time.”
Hunter Woodhall (Syracuse, Utah) was a proven performer once again in the men’s 400 T44. He put himself in a solid position for a medal with a strong first 300 meters. In the final stretch, Woodhall battled eventual champion, New Zealand’s Liam Malone, and Germany’s David Behre to finish with bronze with a time of 46.70. His U.S. teammates AJ Digby (Bowling Green, Ohio) and Nick Rogers (Lisbon, Maine) followed close behind in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Woodhall closed out his first Paralympic Games with an impressive two medals, winning a 200-meter silver earlier in the week. The high school senior couldn’t help but smile when reflecting of his time in Rio.
“I look back at everything and it’s just amazing,” Woodhall said. “It’s hard to put into words. This experience and being able to be on this stage is something really special. The lessons I’ve come away with, the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had is worth it all.”
Team USA narrowly missed the podium in the men’s 800 T53 as Brian Siemann (Millstone, New Jersey) finished fourth in the event, with teammate Josh George (Herndon, Virginia) close behind in fifth. Steven Toyoji (San Francisco, California) also took fifth in the men’s 1500 T52.
The action continues tomorrow at Olympic Stadium with a line-up of several highly-anticipated events, including a U.S. duel of defending Paralympic champion Jeremy Campbell (Perryton, Texas) against world record holder David Blair (Eagle Mountain, Utah) in the men’s discus F44, and Roderick Townsend (Stockton, California) seeking another Paralympic gold in his signature event, the men’s high jump T47. For the women, Deja Young (Mesquite, Texas) will go for gold again in the 200 T47 while Alexa Halko (Williamsburg, Virginia) will seek her third medal in the 800 T34.
Visit USParalympics.org/Rio2016 for more information on Team USA at the Paralympic Games, including athlete bios, schedule and live streaming. Follow the U.S. Paralympic team on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.