The Paralympics are in full swing and day three brought 48 more gold medals, as well as plenty of history.
Despite not a single Paralympic gold before today’s competition, Malaysia won two in the space of a few hours.
There was also a gold and world record for US Army sergeant Elizabeth Marks and an inspiring message from Ibrahim Hamato, one of the most incredible athletes at Rio 2016.
History on the track
Malaysia doesn’t have a rich history in Paralympics – but two men are changing all that.
Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi set a new Paralympic record on his way to winning the T36 100m final, earning Malaysia’s first ever Paralympic gold.
T36 is a category for athletes with coordination impairments and includes cerebral palsy.
Malaysia has previously won silver and bronze at Paralympic Games but, crossing the line in 12.07s ahead of China’s Yang Yifei and Brazilian Rodrigo Parreira da Silva of Brazil, Mohamad Ridzuan became the first from his country to stand atop the podium.
And it wasn’t long before Malaysia made it two golds.
Just a couple of hours later, Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli won the men’s F20 shot put final, smashing the world record in the process.
A bronze medalist from London four years ago, Zolkefli saved his best for last and recorded 16.84m with his fifth and final throw.
Dimitrios Senikidis of Greece took silver and Australia’s Todd Hodgetts won bronze.
Cheers to that
While many of us are accustomed to celebrating with an alcoholic beverage, the training regime of a world-class athlete doesn’t allow for such delicacies.
So what better way to celebrate Paralympic gold than with your first beer in TWO years?
That’s the plan of Great Britain’s Andy Lewis, who won gold in the men’s PT2 para-triathlon – the first time the event has featured at the Paralympics
Lewis crossed the line on the picturesque Copacabana in one hour, 11 minutes and 49 seconds, a full 41 seconds ahead of Italy’s Michele Ferrarin.
Morocco’s Mohamed Lahna took bronze.
“What just happened?” a disbelieving Lewis said after the race. “At the moment I’m just shocked. The boys keep saying to me: ‘European, World and now Paralympic champion,’ but I just can’t believe it yet.”
The 33-year-old had his lower leg amputated 11 years ago after a motorbike accident when he was 16.
“It hasn’t sunk in. Maybe if I have my first beer tonight in two years it might sink in! I’m ecstatic.”
On your Marks…
The name Elizabeth Marks probably rings a bell.
The US Army sergeant captured the hearts of millions by returning her 2016 Invictus Games gold medal to the British hospital that saved her life.
In 2010, while serving in Iraq, Marks sustained severe injuries to both hips, greatly limiting movement and sensation in her legs.
Only initially taking up swimming as part of her rehabilitation, she was spotted by a US Army swimming coach who convinced her to take up the sport competitively.
Marks was quickly accepted into the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Warrior Games – a competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.
However, after flying to London for the 2014 Invictus Games, Marks fell seriously ill. With fluid filling her lungs and unable to breathe, the quick-thinking doctors at Papworth Hospital placed her in an induced coma and on an external lung machine.
It saved her life.
Two years later, she returned her gold medal to Prince Harry for him to pass onto those who saved her at Papworth.
Now, six years after her arduous journey began, the 25-year-old has been crowned Paralympic champion.
Marks stormed to victory in the SB7 100m breaststroke final, obliterating the rest of the field to set a new world record and finishing more than four seconds ahead of her nearest rival, compatriot Jessica Long.
The Netherlands’ Lisa den Braber took bronze.
If you need inspiring look no further than Ibrahim Hamato.
The Egyptian lost both his arms in a train accident as a 10-year-old, but that didn’t stop him playing the sport he loved: table tennis.
Hamata has amassed millions of YouTube views for the ingenious way he serves; throwing the ball up with his toes and holding the paddle in his mouth.
Determined to continue playing, his initial attempt to hold the paddle under his arm didn’t work.
Not one to give up, he eventually discovered using his mouth was the way to success.
“I hope this shows people that nothing is impossible as long as you work hard,” he told the International Table Tennis Federation.
Despite losing his opening two matches, Ibrahim today had an inspiring message those in doubt.
“Everybody should work hard for what they love, and what you think is good for yourself.”