Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Gold rush goes on as records tumble

Ellie Simmonds took gold in the in the 400m freestyle race
Great Britain's Aled Davies celebrates winning Gold in the Men's Discus Throw - F42
The Great Britain Mixed Coxed Four celebrate after winning the LTA4+ Mixed Coxed Four race at Eton Dorney

There were more gold medals and world records on Sunday as British Paralympians were cheered on by sell-out crowds - as the nation takes the Games to its heart.

The Games is expected to welcome its millionth visitor on Tuesday, and record TV audiences have prompted Channel 4 to clear its day-time schedule to boost coverage.

Nearly three million people tuned in on Sunday night to see 17-year-old darling of the pool Ellie Simmonds smash the world record to win gold in a sensational 400m freestyle race.

Around 10,000 extra tickets are being bought every day as soon as they go on sale, as Paralympic venues experience unprecedented numbers of visitors. "The whole of the UK has taken the Games to its heart," a Locog spokesman said. "As soon as tickets have been released, they have been snapped up."

Sunday saw another hugely successful haul for Britain in cycling, rowing, dressage, swimming and athletics. Paralympians are well ahead of schedule in the targeted medal tally of 103 - having reached the half-way point after just four days. Britain took home seven gold, eight silver and three bronze medals on Sunday.

David Weir added a golden finish to a medal-filled day, confirming his status as the world's best wheelchair racer with victory in the T54 5,000 metres to deafening cheers at a packed Olympic Stadium. The 33-year-old, who won the team's only two golds at the last Paralympics four years ago, was urged home by the 80,000 crowd, the roar which went round the stadium on his final lap rivalling that which pulled Mo Farah to Olympic victory less than a month ago.

The day had got off to a winning start at Eton Dorney, as David Smith, James Roe, Naomi Riches, Pam Relph and cox Lily van den Broecke won gold in the mixed coxed four. They were cheered on by the Duchess of Cambridge, who later watched the athletics at the Olympic stadium. Welshman Aled Davies, 21, later declared himself "the happiest guy on the planet right now" after winning gold in the discus. Kate presented him with his medal, leaving him overcome with emotion as she hung it around his neck.

There was a dramatic finale to the action in the velodrome in an all-British gold medal contest, which saw Anthony Kappes and Craig MacLean beat Neil Fachie and Barney Storey in the sprint.

Teenage swim sensation Jessica-Jane Applegate, who has just celebrated her 16th birthday, said she was "on cloud nine" after landing gold in the 200m freestyle. Britain also won gold in the team dressage event Deborah Criddle, Sophie Wells, Lee Pearson and Sophie Christiansen, who also won gold in the single Grade 1A event.

Britain's medal tally currently stands at 54, with 16 gold, 24 silver and 14 bronze medals.

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