The London Paralympics were on track to break an unprecedented number of world records, as the Games hit their half-way point on Tuesday and sprinter Oscar Pistorius found out he would not face further action for his outburst.
A total of 279 world records were set in Beijing four years ago and in the first half of the Games to Tuesday morning, 137 new global bests were set, with a further 81 new Paralympic records, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said.
“The fact is our athletes are getting better. They’re training full-time. This is not just a hobby sport. It’s professional sport at its very best,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence said.
In the evening session of athletics at the Olympic Stadium, there were new world bests in the men’s T34 200m for athletes with cerebral palsy in the shape of Tunisian Walid Ktila.
His compatriot, Abderrahim Zhiou, silver medalist in the T12 5,000m for blind and visually impaired runners, took more than three seconds off Kiwi Tim Prendergast’s record to win the T13 1,500m race in 3 minutes, 48.31 seconds.
Abraham Tarbei of Kenya then defended his Beijing 2008 T46 men’s 1,500m title for upper limb amputees in 3:50.15, more than two seconds better than his own world record.
In other stand-out performances, Brazil’s Felipe Gomes and Daniel Silva took gold and silver in the men’s T11 200m, but the South Americans were denied a clean sweep as compatriot Lucas Prado was pipped for bronze by Angola’s Jose Sayovo Armando.
Assia El Hannouni, of France, defended her women’s T12 400m title for the third Games in a row, while British T54 wheelchair racer David Weir, gold medalist in the 5,000m, was roared to victory by the partisan 80,000 crowd in the 1,500m.
South Africa’s Pistorius was to return to the track yesterday for the T44 100m heats, with IPC talks pending, but safe in the knowledge that he will not face any disciplinary action after his angry reaction to his first 200m defeat in nine years.
The 25-year-old was pipped on the line by Brazil’s Alan Oliveira on Sunday, prompting the South African star to claim that he was at a disadvantage over the length of his rivals’ artificial running prostheses.
Elsewhere, Pistorius’ compatriot, swimming legend Natalie du Toit, claimed the 12th Paralympic gold of her career by winning the women’s 400m S9 freestyle in what will be her last Paralympics.
Also in the pool, Australia’s Jacqueline Freney grabbed an astonishing sixth gold in the S7 50m freestyle, while at the opposite end of the scale, North Korean swimmer Rum Ju-song trailed in last in the men’s S6 50m freestyle heat.
However, the 16-year-old, who lost his left arm and left leg in a construction site accident at the age of six, said he was proud to be the reclusive nation’s first ever competitor at the Games.
“I’m very honored to be the first Paralympian. I’m encouraged that many people cheered for me,” said the teenager, who got to London on a wild card.
At the ExCeL center, China won three of the four individual foil medals in wheelchair fencing, while Greece took the Boccia mixed pairs BC3 title 4-1 against Portugal and Brazil beat the Czech Republic 5-3 in the BC4 mixed pairs.
The equestrian events came to a close, with Britain topping the table at Greenwich Park with 11 medals, including three for Sophie Christiansen.