Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Day One Finals: 2 World and 8 Paralympic Records Fall



  • There are 14 classifications for Paralympic swimmers, typically denoted as “S” followed by a number.
  • “SB” designates an athletes classification for breaststroke events
  • “SM” is for individual medley events
  • Athletes with physical impairments are classified in S1-S10, SB1-SB9, and SM1-SM10 with numbers 1-10 ranging from more severe activity limitations to less severe limitations.
  • Athletes with visual impairments are classified in S/SB11-13.
  • Athletes with intellectual impairments are classified in S/SB14.
  • The Paralympics are not the “Para Olympics” or anything similar. The International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee are separate organizations with separate leadership and separate events that happen to have a partnership to organize their crowned jewels more efficiently.

The first Tokyo 2020 Paralympic swimming champions and medalists have been crowned with the conclusion of day one finals. A total of two World records and ten Paralympic records were broken after this lone finals session.

In the first final of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the S9 men’s 400 free, Australia’s William Martin led from start to finish with a new Paralympic record swim of 4:10.25, taking down country-mate Brenden Hall‘s 2012 record of 4:10.88. France’s Ugo Didier finished in silver position at 4:11.33 while another Aussie, prelims top seed Alexander Tuckfield, settled for bronze at 4:13.54. Hall placed fourth in the 2020 final at 4:14.48.

Successfully defending her S2 women’s 100 back Paralympic title was Singapore’s Yip Pin Xiu, touching the wall at 2:16.61. Pin Xiu won the 2016 Paralympic title with the current World/Paralympic record time of 2:07.09. Miyuki Yamada earned Japan’s first Paralympic swimming medal by taking silver at 2:26.18. Mexico’s Fabiola Ramirez (2:36.54) went from sixth, to fifth, all the way to earning bronze by a half-second over China’s Yazhu Feng (2:37.04).

In the first upset of these Paralympics, Brazil’s Gabriel Bandeira closed three-tenths quicker on Paralympic record-holder Reece Dunn of Great Britain to snatch the S14 men’s 100 fly record and title. Bandeira’s time of 54.76 smashed Dunn’s prelims Paralympic record of 55.99, yet was three-tenths off of Dunn’s 2019 World record (54.46). Australia’s Benjamin James Hance took the bronze medal at 56.90.

Smashing her own World and Paralympic records to take the S14 women’s 100 fly gold was RPC’s Valeriia Shabalina, splitting 29.28/34.31 to nail her personal best time of 1:03.59. Australia also earned a 2-3 finish from Paige Leonhardt (1:05.48) and Ruby Storm (1:06.50).

Another RPC swimmer, Roman Zhdanov, took home Paralympic gold and re-wrote the World/Paralympic records. Accelerating from the rest of the field during the back-half of the SB3 men’s 50 breast final, Zhdanov touched the wall with a time of 46.49, winning by over two-and-a-half seconds. Zhdanov is now the first SB3 swimmer to break 47 seconds in this event, overwhelming the former 47.54 Paralympic record and 47.49 World record.

Spain’s Miguel Luque snagged silver at 49.08 while Japan’s Takayuki Suzuki touched out Italy’s Efrem Morelli by a tenth for bronze, 49.32 to 49.42. Morelli was the former World record-holder before Zhdanov.

After momentarily losing her Paralympic record in prelims, defending champion Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko took back her Paralympic record in the S6 women’s 50 free final by touching out USA’s Elizabeth Marks by four one-hundredths, 33.11 to 33.15. Marks set the Paralympic record in prelims with a time of 33.16. Mereshko’s World record remains at 32.78. Another Ukraine swimmer, Anna Hontar, took bronze at 33.40 for a nation 1-3 finish.

The most successful Paralympic medal collector in Rio 2016, Belarus’ Ihar Boki, roared his third Paralympic campaign with gold in the S13 men’s 100 fly final. With the most powerful underwaters of the field, Boki touched the wall at 53.80, shaving 0.05s off his own Paralympic record. His World record of 53.72 from 2019 still stands. Ukraine’s Oleksil Virchenko nabbed silver at 56.16 while Uzbekistan’s Islam Aslanov swam 57.12 for bronze, 0.01s ahead of France’s Alex Portal (57.13).

At the London 2012 Paralympics, Boki earned five golds and a silver before picking up six golds and a bronze in Rio 2016. Boki’s seven medals in Rio was the most medals earned by a Paralympian at those Games. His first gold medal here in Tokyo marks his 12th career Paralympic title and 14th career Paralympic medal.

In the S13 women’s 100 fly final, World record-holder Carlotta Gilli of Italy became a Paralympic champion by establishing a new Paralympic record time of 1:02.65, easily taking down the former 1:03.25 mark. It was a Italy 1-2 finish in this event as teammate Alessia Berra took the silver medal at 1:05.67. RPC’s Daria Pikalova earned bronze at 1:05.86.

A second Italian swimmer, Francesco Bocciardo, won Paralympic gold, taking the S5 men’s 200 free title with the 10th Paralympic record of the session at 2:26.76. Spain’s Antoni Ponce Bertran touched the wall at 2:35.20 for silver while Brazil legend Daniel Dias picked up another career medal, a bronze (2:38.61).

More Day One Highlights:

  • The S9 women’s 400 free final featured a stroke-for-stroke battle between Hungarian Zsofia Konkoly and Aussie Lakeisha Patterson on the final 50. At the finish, it was Patterson who edged out Konkoly by 0.08s for the gold medal, 4:36.68 to 4:36.76. Great Britain’s Toni Shaw, 13 years old, also broke 4:40 to earn bronze at 4:39.32.
  • It was another tight race for Paralympic gold in the following event, the S1 men’s 100 back final. Utilizing a legal double-arm technique, Israeli Iyad Shalabi had established a strong lead over the field, until Ukrainian Anton Kol accelerated on Shalabi for a photo finish. Shalabi was able to hold off Kol for the gold by a quarter of a second, 2:28.04 to 2:28.29. Italian Francesco Bettella earned bronze with a time of 2:32.08.
  • Chile’s Alberto Abarza won the S2 men’s 100 back final shortly after with a time of 2:00.40. In the race for the silver medal, Brazil’s Gabriel Geraldo dos Santos edged out RPC’s Vladimir Danilenko by 0.27s, 2:02.47 to 2:02.74.
  • Aussie Rowan Crothers just missed breaking the S10 men’s 50 free World/Paralympic record by five one-hundredths, taking gold at 23.21. Ukraine’s Maksym Krypak settled for silver at 23.33 while Brazil’s Phelipe Melo hit 23.50 for bronze.
  • In the S10 women’s 50 free final, RPC’s Anastasiia Gontar out-swam the Netherlands’ Chantalle Zijderveld by four one-hundredths for Paralympic gold, 27.38 to 27.42. The current World/Paralympic record-holder, Canada’s Aurelie Rivard, settled for bronze at 28.11.
  • China’s Zhang Li closed three seconds faster than Great Britain’s Tully Kearney on the final 50 to defend her S5 women’s 200 free Paralympic title by 0.08s, 2:46.53 to 2:46.65. Italy’s Monica Boggioni earned the bronze with a time of 2:55.70.
  • In the final event of the session, Australia’s Ben Popham accelerated on RPC’s Andrei Nikolaev to take the win by three-tenths of a second, 57.37 to 57.69.

Day 1 Medal Table

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Australia (AUS) 4 1 3 8
2  RPC (ROC) 3 1 2 6
3  Italy (ITA) 2 1 2 5
4  Ukraine (UKR) 1 3 1 5
5  Brazil (BRA) 1 1 2 4
6  Belarus (BLR) 1 0 0 1
6  Chile (CHI) 1 0 0 1
6  China (CHN) 1 0 0 1
6  Israel (ISR) 1 0 0 1
6  Singapore (SIN) 1 0 0 1
11  Great Britain (GBR) 0 2 1 3
12  Spain (ESP) 0 2 0 2
13  Japan (JPN) 0 1 1 2
14  France (FRA) 0 1 0 1
14  Hungary (HUN) 0 1 0 1
14  Netherlands (NED) 0 1 0 1
14  United States (USA) 0 1 0 1
18  Canada (CAN) 0 0 1 1
18  Greece (GRE) 0 0 1 1
18  Mexico (MEX) 0 0 1 1
18  Uzbekistan (UZB) 0 0 1 1

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2 years ago

Heartbreaking stuff watching Ellie Cole miss the podium on what was her final competitive 400 free. Come on IPC, in the spirit of fair sport sort this stuff out.

Reply to  Eddie
2 years ago

She swam more than a second faster than that in 2011. And who knows what else that wasn’t WPS sanctioned. I’d wager that the spirit of fair sport suggests that expecting to stand on the podium at the biggest event in the world should probably have _some_ improvement in more than a decade as a prerequisite.

Reply to  Bobc
2 years ago

Wager away. If I recall, not every swimmer who graced the podium swam a personal best time and, not every swimmer who graced the podium had competed in three international classifications (with an upward trajectory) across their career. Had the IPC embraced the ideal of being an athlete centric organisation with principles, integrity and clean sport at its core then the podium would have had a different look. Shame.

2 years ago

Ellie marks is a beast and the nicest woman on the team. Big things coming for her this week!!!

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick has had the passion for swimming since his first dive in the water in middle school, immediately falling for breaststroke. Nick had expanded to IM events in his late teens, helping foster a short, but memorable NCAA Div III swim experience at Calvin University. While working on his B.A. …

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