The Paralympics are into its seventh day of competition. With hundreds of events it's tough to pick out just a few highlights, but here are some of the stories that really caught our eye.
London inspiration turns into Rio domination
Yesterday, Georgina Hermitage of Great Britain won the T37 400m final with a time of 1:00.43 (T37 is one of seven classifications for athletes with varying degrees of cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects muscle control and movement). This win was not only her second gold in Rio, it also means that Hermitage now holds the world record in the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 4 x 100m relay races. Even more stunning? She wasn't even racing four years ago! She picked up running for the first time since she was 14 after getting inspired watching the 2012 Paralympics in London.
Game, set, long match
It may be the tail end of "winter" in Rio, but it's still plenty hot. Yesterday, the temperature reached 42°C (107°F). That's hot even if you're just sitting around doing nothing. But Jamie Burdekin and Andy Lapthorpe of Great Britain and Itai Erenlib and Shraga Weinberg of Israel? They played a match of wheelchair tennis. For four and a half hours! At 4 hours, 25 minutes, it was the longest match in wheelchair tennis history. Burdekin and Lapthorpe won the match, 3–6, 6–4, 7–6 (7–2), as well as the bronze medal in the event.
U.S. champ unstoppable
Meanwhile, American Paralympic star Tatyana McFadden is living up to the buzz around her going into Rio. Yesterday, she won her fifth gold medal all-time in the T54 1500m (T54 is a race for athletes with spinal cord injuries — competitors race in wheelchairs). She has already won gold in 400m and silver in the 100m and has her eyes on winning seven medals total at these Games. She's off to a terrific start!
Cuban sprinter loses none of her speed
Omara Durand of Cuba is known as the fastest female Paralympian ever. She was a gold medal star in the 100m and 400m in London in 2012 in the T13 category (for moderate visual impairments). Since those games, her eyesight has unfortunately grown worse. This change meant that she is running in the T12 category in Rio (for more severe visual impairments — runners in this class will usually use a "guide", another athlete who runs alongside them). But vision aside, there's one thing Durand definitely hasn't lost. Her incredible speed. She set a world record in the 100m at 11.40, and almost did the same thing as she won gold in the 200m.
We'll take those Olympic medals, too, thanks!
Finally, on Sunday, not one, but four runners in the men's T13 1500m race finished with times faster than the Olympic men's 1500m gold medallist, American Matthew Centrowitz. Abdellatif Baka of Algeria set a T13 world record with 3:48.29, winning gold. Ethiopian Tamiru Demisse won silver, and Henry Kirwa of Kenya took bronze. The gold-medallist's brother, Fouad Baka came in fourth at 3:49.84...a time that still was better than Centrowitz's 3:50.00.
Though neither Centrowitz’s nor the Paralympians' times were close to breaking the 1500 m world record of 3:26.00 (held by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj), the underlying message remains: at an elite competition like the Paralympics, amazing results are all around you.