ParalympicsGB met their medal target with two days to spare after a 15-year-old from Coventry won bronze in the T34 800m last night.
The story of the race was Hannah Cockroft completing a hat-trick of golds and becoming a five-times Paralympic champion. But Britain had merely matched their tally of 120 medals at London 2012 when she crossed the line in 2mins 0.62sec. On a day of 15 medals, Mission 121 was complete when Kare Adenegan finished third.
UK Sport set ParalympicsGB the task of beating their performance in London and the British Paralympic Association was confident a 264-strong squad would live up to expectations.
That belief was not misplaced. Britain ended up sweeping past their target after archery gold for John Walker and F44 discus bronze for Dan Greaves. Walker’s triumph in the W1 individual event was Britain’s 57th gold, 23 more than in London. The 50th gold arrived when Paul Blake won the T34 400m in the morning session of the athletics, while David Smith added the 51st with boccia victory. The equestrian riders ensured Britain won a record seven dressage gold medals. Sophie Christiansen and Natasha Baker completed their hat-trick of titles, while Lee Pearson also clinched his 11th Paralympic gold. Sophie Wells and Anne Dunham kept the ball rolling with silvers.
Gordon Reid beat his young team-mate and doubles partner, Alfie Hewett, in the men’s wheelchair tennis singles final, David Stone claimed T1-2 cycling road race silver and Class 6-8 bronze in the team. Table tennis gold for Will Bayley, Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson saw Britain’s total rise to 119 before Cockroft and Adenegan registered the ones that mattered.
It was an emotional occasion for Cockroft. She named her race chair Tink in memory of Tahlia Banks, a friend from university who passed away a year ago. Tahlia had cystic fibrosis and died at the age of 20 after a double lung transplant. Cockroft added the 800m after winning the 100m and 200m in London.
“It has been tough mentally and physically,” she said. “I’m very confident over the sprints but the 800m is way out of my comfort zone.” Adenegan was ecstatic. She did a little jig in her chair. “I have surpassed all my expectations,” she said. “This is probably the best event of my year.”
This article was changed on Saturday 17 September to reflect that ParalympicsGB total was not larger than their record haul in 1984.