U.S. ends Tokyo Paralympics with best gold-medal rank in 13 years and bevy of highlights

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Day Eleven
Getty Images
0 Comments

While China won both the total- and gold-medal counts for the fifth summer Paralympic Games running, the United States had its own top-three finish worth celebrating in Tokyo.

The U.S. contingent was third in the race for most golds, its highest finish in that category since Beijing 2008. Since leading both the total and gold medals when it hosted the Games in Atlanta 25 years ago, the Americans’ best summer Paralympic finishes had been third in the total rank in 2000 and third in both categories in 2008.

When the Games ended Sunday, the top five countries on the total medal table were China (207), Great Britain (124), Russian Paralympic Committee (118), the U.S. (104) and Ukraine (98). China’s tally for golds was 96, followed by Great Britain (41), the U.S. (37), Russian Paralympic Committee (36) and the Netherlands (25).

The U.S. took home medals in 15 of the 19 sports it entered for its most diverse share of medals in 17 years, including its first medals in canoe and taekwondo.

Jessica Long, already the country’s second-most decorated Paralympian and the world’s most decorated active Paralympian at age 29, left Tokyo as the most successful woman at the Games among all nations. Her six medals in swimming (bringing her career total to 29) were two greater than any other American.

Making his Paralympic debut, sprinter Nick Mayhugh led the U.S. men with four medals, three of which were gold. The 25-year-old set worlds records in the 100m T37, 200m T37 and 4x100m universal relay, plus an American record for his silver-medal performance in the 400m T37.

Seven Americans – Noah Malone (track and field), Elizabeth Marks (swimming), Raymond Martin (track and field), Brittni Mason (track and field), Tatyana McFadden (track and field), Roxanne Trunnell (equestrian), Mallory Weggemann (swimming) – followed with three medals apiece. Seventeen more U.S. athlete earned two medals in Tokyo.

Winning a medal of each color, McFadden reached her 20th Paralympic medal at her sixth Games.

Cheri Madsen, Oksana Masters and Martin all reached the double-digit mark in career Paralympic medals. Madsen has two golds, five silvers and three bronzes in track and field from the 1996, 2000, 2016 and 2020 Games. Martin has seven golds and three silvers on the track, earned at the past three Games. Masters medaled in her fourth sport and now counts four golds, three silvers and three bronzes from the past five Games in biathlon, cross-country skiing, cycling and rowing.

Kendall Gretsch became the third U.S. woman, and fifth American total, to win gold at both the summer and winter Paralympics. She added triathlon PTWC victory to her biathlon and cross-country skiing wins from PyeongChang 2018. Masters added her name to that list two days later with time trial H4-5 gold, then took road race H5 gold the following day.

Brad Snyder also won gold in his second sport. The Navy veteran added a triathlon PTVI win to his seven swimming medals from London and Rio. His is the first U.S. men’s Paralympic triathlon medal.

Other U.S. highlights from the Tokyo Games include:

  • Women accounted for 61.5% of total U.S. medals and 62% of U.S. gold medals.
  • With Ian Seidenfeld’s gold in men’s singles Class 6 and Jenson Van Emburgh’s bronze in men’s singles Class 3, the U.S. won its first table tennis medals since 2004, had its best result in the sport since 1996 and also earned its most medals in the sport in that long. Coincidentally, Seidenfeld’s father, Mitchell, won two of the U.S.’ five Paralympic table tennis medals in 1996.
  • Blake Haxton, a 2016 Paralympic rower, competed in both rowing and canoe sprint in Tokyo and earned silver in va’a 200m VL2 for the first Paralympic canoe medal by an American; the sport debuted in Rio.
  • Evan Medell took bronze in his sport’s Paralympic debut in men’s +75kg K44 for the country’s first taekwondo medal.
  • Cyclist Alicia Dana was the oldest U.S. medalist in Tokyo, with road race H1-4 and mixed team relay H1-5 bronzes at age 58.
  • Led by Trunnell, the U.S. equestrian team won its first medal in 17 years, first gold in 25 years, most medals in 25 years and first dressage team medal. Trunnell is now tied for the most decorated and winningest U.S. Para equestrian.
  • With golds from Gretsch, Snyder and now two-time champion Allysa Seely, the U.S. triathlon team led its sport in most medals (five) and most golds (three).
  • The women’s sitting volleyball and men’s wheelchair basketball teams successfully defended their gold medals from Rio, while U.S. teams also medaled in women’s goalball (silver), women’s wheelchair basketball (bronze) and wheelchair rugby (silver).
  • Five world records (Breanna Clark – 400m T20; Mayhugh – 100m T37, 200m T37; Roderick Townsend – high jump T47; Malone/Mason/Mayhugh/McFadden – universal relay), seven more American records (Hagan Landry – shot put F41; Malone – 400m T12; Martin – 1500m T52; Mayhugh – 400m T37; Trenten Merrill – long jump T64; Cassie Mitchell – club throw F51; Jaleen Roberts – 100m T37) and a Paralympic record (Susannah Scaroni – 5000m T54) were set by Americans in track and field.
  • The U.S. set four world records in swimming – Robert Griswold (100m backstroke S8), Marks (100m backstroke S6), Anastasia Pagonis (400m freestyle S11), Gia Pergolini (100m backstroke S13), plus an additional Paralympic record by Weggemann in the 100m backstroke S7.
  • Nearly 39.5% of the U.S. medals came in track and field (41 total) and 33.65% were won in swimming (35 total).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
Getty
0 Comments

LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
Getty
0 Comments

Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!