Six University of Sydney Paralympians Roar in Rio | Daily updates

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The much anticipated XVth Paralympic Games have arrived in Rio de Janeiro and will stretch from September 8-19, AEST.
There are six University of Sydney Paralympians in the Australian team being Angie Ballard, Rae Anderson, Jo Burnand, Jeremy McGrath, Jenny Blow and Prue Watt. Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness is proud to bring you Paralympic posts covering all of the events in which our University of Sydney athletes are participating.   

The Australian Paralympic Team comprises of 177 athletes, who will compete in 16 of the 22 sports at the Rio Games. Approximately 4,350 athletes from 160 nations across the globe will participate.

The Paralympics are a celebration of the human spirit and the passion to compete despite personal adversity. The Games are renowned for their countless inspirational moments and Rio promises to deliver all that and more.

Join us here for updates as we #RoarInRio. 

Day 11

After eleven days of magical and inspirational sporting competition the curtain has come down on the XVth Summer Paralympics in Rio.

In a joyous Closing Ceremony the Paralympic flag was passed to Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike, as next host city in 2020. The 2016 Rio Paralympic Games have been widely acclaimed a resounding success of the human spirit and are the second-best attended Games in history, only behind London 2012 on tickets sold.

In a magnificent accomplishment our Australian Paralympic Team have finished in fifth place on the overall medal tally with 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze.

As our 177 strong Australian Paralympic team make their long-flight home it is timely to pause and reflect on the tremendous feats of our six University of Sydney Paralympians in Rio.  Every one of them gave their absolute all in proudly representing their country, and they are University of Sydney ambassadors of the highest order. It is a huge achievement to be selected to represent Australia and we have been thrilled to support their wonderful efforts and achievements.

Angela Ballard | Fifth Consecutive Paralympics: Silver Medal, Women’s 4 x 400m T53/54 Relay; Bronze Medal, Women’s 100m T53; Bronze Medal, Women’s 400m T53; 4th Place in Final of 800m T52/53 with a season best time and 7th in heat of the Women’s 1500m T53/54.

Rae Anderson | Paralympics Debut: 5th in Final of Women’s Javelin F37 with a personal best and 8th in Final of the Women’s Discus F37/38 with a season best throw.

Jennifer Blow | Dual Paralympian: Australian team, the Aussie Belles finished 9th in overall standings.

Prue Watt | Fourth Consecutive Paralympics: 4th in heat and 9th fastest overall, Women’s 100m Butterfly S13; 8th in Final of Women’s 200m IM SM13; 6th in Final of Women’s 100m Breaststroke SB13; 4th in heat of Women’s 50m Freestyle S13 and 4th in heat of Women’s 100m Freestyle S13.

Jeremy McGrath & Josephine Burnand | Both Paralympics Debut: Won B Final of the LTA Mixed Coxed Four and 7th in Overall Standings.

Day 9 & 10

Rae Anderson

In another inspired performance, Rae Anderson has finished eighth in the Women’s Discus F37/38 Final with a throw of 27.14, which was a season best. Similar to her standout result in the Women’s Javelin F37 Final, at the start of these Games, where Anderson threw a personal best on her last attempt, it was again that final sixth attempt where the season best was achieved. 
In a high quality eleven-competitor final, Chinese athlete Na Mi eclipsed the field, winning gold with a new World Record of 37.60. Much to the delight of the big crowd, Shirlene Coelho, Brazil claimed silver with a throw of 33.91 and bronze went to Noelle Lenihan of Ireland with 31.71. Lenihan’s distance in this event was a new Paralympic Record for the F38 classification with the first two placegetters being in the F37 classification. Lenihan holds the current World Record too for the F38 classification with 32.14, set earlier this year.
At just 19 years of age, Anderson, given what she has been able to achieve in her Rio Paralympic debut, has shown herself to be one of our brightest prospects for the future. Already having represented at the 2014 Australian Athletics Championships, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Athletics World Championships in 2015, Anderson is quickly building one heck of a sporting resume. Recording a personal best and season best in her two Rio events, javelin and discus respectively, Anderson has announced she has the skills, attitude and talent to be a world-beater.  
Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness congratulates Rae Anderson on her outstanding performances in Rio and we look forward to following her athletics career with much interest.  

Prue Watt

Despite finishing a gallant fourth in her heat of the Women’s 100m Freestyle S13, Watt missed out on progressing through to the final.

The 100m Freestyle S13 silver medallist from 2004 Athens, Watt swam 1:04.29, really motoring in the second lap after turning at the 50m in 31.07. Only the eight fastest swimmers from the three heats advanced to the final.

Fellow Australian, Jenna Jones, also in heat 1 finished second in a time of 1:02.75 which unluckily saw her as the ninth-fastest heat swimmer overall to just miss a lane in the final. Our third Aussie athlete, Katja Dedekind, finished fourth in heat 2 stopping the clock at 1:04.59, meaning there would be no green and gold swimsuit in the final.

The fastest qualifier from the heats was Hannah Russell of Great Britain with a time of 59.99, the only swimmer to go under the one-minute mark. Next closest was Anna Stetsenko of Ukraine in 1:00.40. The podium finishers in the final managed to find an extra touch of speed with gold going to Stetsenko in 59.19. Rebecca Meyers, USA, claimed silver, also under the minute with 59.77, while Russell took bronze posting 1:00.07.

The 100m freestyle was Watt’s last event in her big Rio programme. Watt, while not picking up a medal at these games proved her consistency once again at the highest level in making a number of finals. At her fourth consecutive Paralympic Games in Rio, Watt is one of our all-time most successful Paralympians winning a total of eight medals, including five in her first Games at Athens 2004. Watt lists as her career highlight winning gold at London 2012 in the 100m Breaststroke S13.

It is always a pleasure to watch Watt give her absolute best and Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness extends it’s admiration and congratulations to Prue Watt on her efforts in Rio.

Angie Ballard

Angie Ballard in her final event in Rio was impressive in qualifying for the Women’s 800m T52/53 at the Olympic Stadium. Smashing out a season best performance with 1:48.74, Ballard crossed the line second in round 1, heat 2.
Ballard was fractionally behind the heat winner Hongzhuan Zhou of China who clocked 1:48.37 in Paralympic Record time. The first three in Ballard’s heat all finished within one-half of one second of each other, with Samantha Kinghorn of Great Britain third in 1:48.89. The first three in each heat plus the next two fastest advanced to the final.
In heat 1 fellow Aussie, Madison De Rozario, also progressed to the final, finishing second in a time of 1:54.14, behind heat winner Chelsea McClammer, USA in 1:52.96.
The 800m wheelchair race is very tactical and so much depends on the start where competitors try and explode at the gun to move across the track to the inside lane, hoping to stay in front and command the race. It can be very difficult to pass on the outside when the pace is so hot. This final followed that pattern and try as she did Ballard could not land a podium place, finishing fourth in another season best time of 1:47.97. Ballard gave herself every chance and similar to her heat just one–half of one second separated the first four finishers. Zhou of China took the gold along with setting a new World Record time of 1:47.45. In a great result De Rozario in a season best time of 1:47.64 scooped the silver, and bronze went to Shirley Reilly of USA in 1:47.77.   
While not her favoured distance, Ballard really threw everything at this event, leaving nothing in the tank and was gracious as always post-race. Ballard’s Rio campaign has been a huge success with a silver medal in the Women’s 4 x 400m T53/54 Relay plus bronze in both the 100m T3 and the 400m T53 finals. With a total haul now of eight Paralympic medals from five consecutive Games starting in Sydney 2000, Ballard is an icon in Australian Paralympic athletics.

Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness extends a huge congratulations to Angie Ballard for your Rio success and we thank you for the joy you have given us once again watching you compete.

Day 8 

Angie Ballard

In a drama-charged and controversial final of the Women’s 4x400m T53/54 Relay at the Olympic Stadium, the magnificent Australian quartet of Angie Ballard, Madison De Rozario, Jemima Moore and Christie Dawes have been awarded silver in a time of 3:46.63, which was a season best.

Initially disqualified by officials, the Australians, following review were restored to second place. The USA team was originally given second place when Australia was fleetingly disqualified before the decision was reversed.

The Australian wheelchair racers have been in great form at this Paralympics, with Ballard already picking up two bronze medals and Christie Dawes achieving a personal best in the Women’s 1500m T53/54 just two days earlier. Madison De Rozario has been knocking on the door for a podium finish in her events so far with a powerful fifth place in the same 1500m final. In an amazing display of stamina, De Rozario finished an agonisingly close fourth in the final of the Women’s 5000m T53/54 Final just two hours before this relay final. De Rozario clocked 11:54.46 for that 5000m fourth place, just twelve-one-hundreds of one second behind third placed Amanda McGrory of the USA. The fourth member of the Aussie relay team, Jemima Moore, is a talented-wheelchair racer who won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

This latest relay silver medal brings Ballard’s overall Paralympic career medal tally to an incredible eight, with four silver and four bronze. China won gold in a new World Record time of 3:32.11 with no bronze awarded as both the Turkish and USA teams were disqualified.

With the thrill of this team silver medal, Ballard is looking forward to her final event, the Women’s 800m T53 race this weekend.

Day 7

Jennifer Blow 

The Aussie Belles hopes for a quarter-final berth were dashed when they went down to Canada 6-0, in their final Pool D preliminary match in Rio early today, AEST. 

The Australians entered the game needing at least a draw to progress in the competition, however, the Belles could not contain the attacking brilliance of Canadian, Amy Burk who in a virtuoso performance scored all six goals. Burk scored five in the first half before the Aussies dramatically lifted their defensive organisation and intensity to only allow the one goal from Burk in the second stanza.

Jenny Blow started the match and contributed with a number of throws. Though substituted late in the first half, the dual Paralympian, Blow was pitched back into the game in the second to again make her presence felt at both ends of the court. Blow featured in all games played by the Australians.

A standout for the Aussies against Canada was Nicole Esdaile who played 22 minutes. The game was played before a packed house of 5000 fans at Rio’s Future Arena which was an incredible experience for both teams and a great show of support for goalball in general. Such a large boisterous crowd presented some issues though as goalball spectators are expected to remain as quiet as possible so players, who are visually impaired, can listen for the bell inside the ball and set their attack and defense accordingly.

The Aussie Belles have been winners just by making it to Rio given they received a last minute invitation, barely weeks ago, after the International Olympic Committee excluded Russia from these Paralympic Games. It was a huge effort to hastily reorganise their lives and take their place in the Goalball competition. The Belles finished with three losses and one draw in their pool matches.

Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness extends a huge congratulations to Jenny Blow and the whole Aussie Belles team on both their Paralympic selection and playing efforts in Rio. We hope you now have a chance to enjoy supporting other Aussie Paralympians in Rio.

Day 6

Angie Ballard

Unfortunately Angie Ballard wasn’t able to progress through to the start list for the Women’s 1500m T53/54 Final finishing seventh in her round 1 heat earlier today, AEST.

Ballard stopped the clock in 3:33.05 and her chances were not assisted as this heat was considerably slower than the following heat. The first three in each heat qualify automatically for the final on Wednesday, as well as the next four fastest overall.
While Ballard has missed out on progressing to this final, two fellow Australian teammates have made it through mainly, Madison De Rozario, who trains a lot with Ballard (3:31.54) and Christie Dawes who posted a personal best in heat 2 (3:28.57). The Aussie flag will certainly be flying in the final.

Amanda McGrory, USA, recorded a Paralympic Record of 3:22.75 in winning heat 2.
This race was a big challenge for Ballard coming so soon after her 400m T53 final, just twenty-four hours earlier. The 1500m Final is scheduled for 7:14am on Wednesday, September 14, AEST.

Ballard still has a number of events to contest including the relays and the Women’s 800m T53 race.

Day 5

Angie Ballard

While not the colour medal she was hoping for, Angie Ballard has claimed another bronze in finishing third in the Women’s 400m T53 Final, early this morning, AEST.
The versatile Ballard still has a number of events to contest in Rio in her quest for a gold medal, though the 400m race was favoured as her best chance given her World Record last year and qualifying fastest for the final. With such outstanding fields in the Rio Paralympics, 160 countries competing, nothing is guaranteed and while it was a bitter sweet result, Ballard was all power and grace in the final giving it her all.
It took a World Record to beat her, with Hongzhuan Zhou of China snaring gold in 54:43 and Chelsea McClammer just sneaking past Ballard in the home straight to take silver with a personal best time of 55:13. Ballard was a brave third slightly fading at the end in 55:28, two one-hundreds of one second slower than her winning heat time of 55:26. Ballard was wheel-to-wheel with Zhou as they rounded the final bend but couldn’t counter as Zhou surged down the straight with the finish line in sight. Post-race Ballard was consoled knowing she had put it on the line and produced the best she had today.
This latest bronze medal is Ballard’s second at this games after she captured bronze in the Women’s 100m T53 final and incredibly her seventh medal overall in Paralympic competition.

Next up for Ballard is the heats of the Women’s 1500m T54 event, scheduled to start at 6:30am on Tuesday, September 13, AEST.

Jenny Blow

Although the Australians suffered a 12-2 blow by gold medal favourite Turkey in their third group stage game at the Future Arena, they still remain a chance for quarter finals. 

Turkey landed 4 goals in the opening four minutes, taking the lead to 7-1 by halftime. Australia’s first goal came from Meica Horsburgh, who also managed the second and last for Australia.

Turkey’s skill in bouncing the ball at the Aussie defenders ultimately dismantled the Belle’s game-plan, with Turkey eventually extending the score to 10 goals. 

A win in Australia’s next game against Canada should secure them a place in the top eight, while a draw will depend on other results to make the finals. 

Prue Watt

Prue Watt has finished sixth in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke SB13 Final earlier this morning AEST. Watt’s time of 1:18.16 was over two seconds quicker than her heat time of 1:20.44 which propelled her into the final as fifth fastest qualifier.

In both her heat and the final, Watt showed great speed to the 50m turn which augurs well for her 50m and 100m freestyle events still to come. Watt’s 50m time in the heat was second fastest of all competitors in all heats. Jenna Jones, Watt’s fellow Australian swimmer, also in heat 1 finished fifth in a time of 1:22.25 but did not advance to the final.
The high standard of these Paralympics is astonishing as it is often taking a World or Paralympic Record to win gold and this final was no different, with Fotimakhon Amilova of Uzbekistan recording a World Record 1:12.45 to win. Rebecca Redfern of Great Britain took silver with 1:13.81 and Colleen Young, USA the bronze in 1:17.02. Even the heats were red hot with the Paralympic Record being broken in heat 1 by Elena Krawzow of Germany with 1:17.25 ( finished fourth in the final) only to be bettered minutes later in heat 2 by Redfern with a time of 1:17.08.
Next assignment in the pool for Watt is the Women’s 50m Freestyle S13 heats which start from 22:50pm Wednesday, September 14, AEST.

Day 4

Angie Ballard

World Record holder, Angie Ballard, signalled to the field she is here to win the Women’s 400m T53 event with an impressive time of 55.26, to be fastest qualifier for the final. The champion wheelchair racer turned the table on Hongzhuan Zhou from China in her 400m heat, who pinched silver to Ballard’s bronze in the Women’s 100m T53 final the day before. Zhou and Chelsea McClammer of the USA are the next fastest qualifiers in the 400m final, each posting 55:42 in their heats.
This 400m final is Ballard’s pet event so this is one race not to be missed. Let’s hope Ballard can repeat her magnificent heat effort in the final, scheduled for Monday, September 12 at 6:54am AEST.

Rae Anderson

Rae Anderson stood tall and produced a stunning personal best (PB) in the Women’s Javelin F37 Final, where she finished 5th overall.

Demonstrating her competitive zeal, Anderson launched her PB throw of 28.46 on her final and sixth attempt. The gold medal was won by Shirlene Coelho of Brazil with a throw of 37.57. Silver went to Na MI of China with 30.18 and bronze to Qianqian Jia also of China with 29.47. Just one metre stood between Anderson and the bronze medal.
This great result for Anderson will fill her with confidence that she is in best-ever form for her next event, the Women’s Discus F38 due to start next Sunday, September 18 from 6:45am AEST. It is great to see an Aussie athlete doing so well in the throwing events.

Jeremy McGrath & Josephine Burnand

In their Repechage 2 race, the Australians did improve to finish third, qualifying for the B Final. Only the top two finishers in each repechage progressed to the A Final. The Aussie crew crossed the line in 3:37.29 for the 1000m in the LTA Mixed Coxed Four, less than one second behind South Africa who made it through to the A Final.
The Australians, though disappointed not to make the medal race, still left their mark in Brazil, finishing the B Final in first place ahead of their main opposition, France. The French crew finished third in Repechage 1 with a time of 3:36.65, about half one-second quicker than the Aussies, however, the Aussies got ahead in the final to post 3:30.59. France took second (3:31.64), while Ukraine came in third (3:34.72). 

Overall, the Australian crew ranked an impressive 7th in the final standings, significantly improving their time in each advancing stage of competition. 

Prue Watt

In an upset Myers pulled out a great time of 2:24.66 in the final to resign Amilova to the silver medal with 2:25.23. Showing their depth, Uzbekistan swimmer, Shokhsanamkhon Toshpulatova snapped up the bronze with a time of 2:27.31. Prue Watt finished in eighth place but in a real display of stamina improved her heat time to post 2:39.06, over one-second quicker in fact.  

Day 3

Jenny Blow

The Aussie Belles bounced back from their first–up loss to the highly ranked Chinese team to draw 2-2 with Ukraine in their Pool D, second preliminary match.
Goal scorers for Australia were Nicole Esdaile in the fourth minute and Meica Horsburgh in the tenth minute. Australia were in chase mode the whole way but were able to respond with a goal each time Ukraine found the back of the net. Tyan Taylor for Australia made countless saves in a match with many shots for goal that were successfully defended. The draw was important for Australia providing our first point in Pool D before we face Turkey, who have won their first two matches and currently lead Pool D. Jenny Blow came on late in the second half to make it on court in both games so far.

Jeremy McGrath and Josephine Burnand 

The Australian crew of Kathleen Murdoch, Bow; Brock Ingram, Rower 2; Jeremy McGrath Rower 3; Davinia Lefroy, Stroke and Jo Burnand, Coxswain, finished fourth in the Heat to miss out on automatic qualification for the A Final but they still have a pathway via the repechage. The Aussie crew stated they could improve after their first hit-out and felt they needed to start harder to get on the pace to avoid playing catch-up the whole race, which is what happened.

Prue Watt

Prue Watt in her second even at these Paralympic Games has qualified for the final of the Women’s 200m IM S13 race with a time of 2:40.48. Only the fastest eight finishers from the three heats advanced to the final.
The individual medley is widely regarded as the ultimate test of a swimmers ability given all four strokes are included. It is a credit to Watt’s all-round swimming prowess that she has managed to make the final. The gold medal seems to be Fotimakhon Amilova’s of Uzbekistan to lose, as she broke the world record in her heat to post 2:24.43, a whopping five seconds clear of the second fastest qualifier for the final. Amilova claimed the bronze in the 100m Women’s Butterfly S13 , which was Watt’s opening event at these games. The second fastest qualifier for the final was Rebecca Myers, USA with 2:29.88.

Day 2 

Angie Ballard

Ballard has claimed the bronze medal in her first Rio Paralympics final, the Women’s 100m T53 event.

Competing in an incredible fifth successive Paralympic Games, Ballard qualified third fastest for the final in a time of 16:80 but was able to better that in the final to record 16:59 for third place. The gold medal was won by Lisha Huang of China with 16:28 after she set a new World Record in the heats, posting a dazzling 16:19. Hongzhuan Zhou, also of China, captured the silver with a time of 16:51.

Ballard has won bronze in the Women’s 100m T53 twice before, Athens 2004 and London 2012. While world ranked in the 100m T53, Ballard’s favoured events are still to come in Rio with the 200m and 400m T53, both events in which she captured silver at London 2012. Ballard broke the 400m T53 world record last year in Switzerland and considers that moment the highlight of her illustrious career to date. Ballard strives to be an athlete who sets the standard and this wonderful first-up medal in Rio confirms her outstanding form.

Ballard has a huge wheelchair-racing programme in Rio with the 400m, 1500m, 4 x400m relay and 800m still to come. Ballard has now claimed, including this latest bronze, three silver and three bronze from Paralympic Games and will be chasing that elusive gold medal in her remaining events.  

Jenny Blow

Unfortunately our Aussie Belles, the Australian Women Goalball team, have gone down to China 5-2 in their opening Group D Preliminary Match, at the Future Arena in Rio.
In jumper number one, Jenny Blow was in the starting side and in the thick of the action throughout. This is the second Paralympics for Jenny Blow after she debuted in London 2012. The Australian goalkeeper Tyan Taylor made a series of early saves, however China scored first at the 3 minute 22 second mark and again just before the 8 minute mark. The Australians showed great composure and skill to level at 2-2 before half time. The Chinese, however, found a second gear to score three unanswered goals. The Australians can be extremely proud as they contested every play to the final whistle. 
Australia only received notice in August 2016 that they had qualified for these games after the International Paralympic Committee suspended all Russian competitors from these Paralympic Games due to allegations of a widespread doping culture in their country. The Australian Goalball team were the next highest ranked country and it is a credit to the Australian Paralympic Committee, our Women’s Goalball team, their coaches and management that they scrambled so hard and so quickly to land in Rio and give it their all.
The Aussie Belles next match is against Ukraine on Saturday, September  10, from 11:15pm AEST.

Prue Watt

Prue Watt swam a determined 100m Women’s Butterfly S13 time of 1:09:80 to finish 4th in heat 3 as her first event of many at the Rio Games.

Watt’s time was tantalising close to making the final, just missing out as the ninth fastest in the heats with only the top eight advancing. Demonstrating the incredible standard of the Paralympic Games, where a number of world records have already been broken in various events, Rebecca Myers of the USA took gold with a World Record time of 1:03:25. Muslima Odilova of Uzbekistan claimed silver and she was also the winner of Watt’s earlier heat. Fotimakhon Amilova also of Uzbekistan took the bronze.
Similar to Angie Ballard in the athletics, Prue Watt has a jam-packed programme in Rio competing in the swimming pool virtually every day of competition. One of Australia’s all-time, most successful Paralympic swimmers, Watt was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2014 for services to Australian Sport. Watts’ next event in Rio is the Women’s 200m IM SM13 heats and expected qualification for the final this weekend.