Rio 2016 Paralympics: Australia wins 1st gold as Lakeisha Patterson breaks S8 400m world record

By @vitthernandez on
Lakeisha Patterson
Lakeisha Patterson broke the S8 400-metre world record on Thursday, the opening day of the Rio 2016 Paralympics in Brazil. Faceboo/Coaches Jay & Hannah

Lakeisha Patterson, a 17-year-old Queenslander, broke the S8 400-metre world record on Thursday, the opening day of the Rio 2016 Paralympics in Brazil. Her time of 4:40.33 gave Australia its first gold medal.

Patterson surprised Jessica Long, the three-time defending champion from the US, by controlling the race from the first 100 metres. It ended the reign of 24-year-old Long who has ruled the event since 2004 in Athens and earned 12 Paralympic gold medals.

She credits her victory to training alongside Brendan Hall, 400-metre world record holder, whom Patterson says pushed her along. Born with cerebral palsy, Patterson, admits, “If someone told me a year ago this is where I would be, I would’ve said that’s a joke,” quotes Herald Sun.

Patterson says Long has been her swimming idol growing up, and she felt privileged and honoured not only to have swam alongside Long. But at the same time, Patterson adds, “I felt quite bad. She has achieved so many things and I have come out of nowhere,” quotes The Australian.

The 17-year-old says, “I did not think my first Games would end up like this,” while Long acknowledges it would be a tough race even if she was competing against newbies.

Besides Patterson, Australian para-cyclist Sue Powell got Australia’s first medal by winning the silver in the women’s C4 3-kilometre individual pursuit.

VIDEO: Swimming ǀ Women’s 400m Freestyle 2* final ǀ Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Source: Paralympic Games