Where there’s a Will – there’s world records and three gold medals

Swimming sensation Will Martin has smashed his own world record twice to claim his third gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Sep 03, 2021, updated Sep 03, 2021
Paralympian Will Martin has won three gold medals, which will boost his bank balance after the Federal Government's announcement of a prize money pool for medal winners (AAP photo).

Paralympian Will Martin has won three gold medals, which will boost his bank balance after the Federal Government's announcement of a prize money pool for medal winners (AAP photo).

Martin, who had already won the 400m freestyle S9 and was part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team that claimed the world record when winning their event, dominated the S9 100m butterfly on Thursday.

He was the only swimmer in qualifying to better one minute, clocking 58.14 seconds to break the world mark of 58.28 he set earlier this year on the Gold Coast.

His achievement came after fellow swimmer Ellie Cole pocketed another relay medal to become Australia’s most decorated Paralympian.

Also on Thursday night, Ben Hance set a Paralympic record when won gold in the S14 100m backstroke.

Hance clocked 57.73 seconds, just shy of the 57.56 world record he set at the June national trials in Adelaide.

The 21-year-old had set a Games record of 57.75 in qualifying.

Australia has now won 15 gold medals in Tokyo.

Cole swam the backstroke leg of the 4x100m medley team that won bronze on Thursday night, taking the six-time gold medallist to 17 career Paralympic medals.

Her silver and bronze medals in Tokyo helped make her Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian, with one more medal than retired swimmer Priya Cooper, who won nine gold.

At the main stadium, Vanessa Low broke her own world record as she won the T63 long jump.

But arguably the most significant news for the Paralympic team on Thursday happened nearly 8000km away in Canberra.

The prime minister announced the federal government would reward each Australian Paralympics medal in Tokyo with the same money that the Australian Olympic Committee provides for the Olympic team – $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.

Paralympics Australia hailed it as a landmark move towards equity in sport and wheelchair tennis great Dylan Alcott called it a win for people power.

“How cool is this news. It’s because of all of you backing the Paralympic Games and making some noise to make this change happen,” Alcott tweeted.

“We appreciate the support of the Australian public so much, and hope the last week has put some smiles on some faces back home!”

But the most historic medal of the day was Cole’s bronze in the relay with Kiera Stephens, Emily Beecroft and Isabella Vincent.

The four-time Paralympian will most likely retire now, with Thursday’s relay the last event on her Tokyo program.

“I spent a very emotional afternoon and so I kept sitting at the warm-up pool crying,” she told Channel Seven.

“I was ‘pull yourself together, you have to do this for your country’.

“It just goes to show how much racing for your country, racing for your team in particular, can really put a firework up your … you know …”

At the track, Low’s world record capped a romantic Australian recruiting coup.

She won the same event in Rio, when competing for Germany.

Low switched nationalities and moved to Australia so she could see more of her husband Scott Reardon, who won gold in the T42 100m at Rio and finished fifth in the T63 100m final earlier this week.




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