• London Paralympics 2012

Simmonds and Pistorius smash world records

ESPN staff
September 1, 2012
Ellie Simmonds claimed gold in the pool © PA Photos

Ellie Simmonds produced a world record swim to see off great rival Victoria Arlen and win gold in the S6 400m freestyle at the 2012 Paralympics on Saturday.

Simmonds, the defending champion, had seen her previous world record snatched by Arlen at the US trials in June. And, after the International Paralympic Committee reinstated Arlen into the S6 classification at the start of the week, spectators knew a duel was on the cards at the Aquatics Centre.

Simmonds, who has a form of dwarfism, responded to the challenge by clocking a time of 5:19.17s in the final, beating the old record by more than five seconds. Arlen was second in 5:20.18.

"I just wanted to go out there and retain my title and win a gold medal," Simmonds told BBC Sport. "My coach said I was capable of a 5:19 race but I wasn't thinking about that.

"I was quite nervous leading into it because Victoria has been in such good form leading into the Games."

Arlen actually led through the first 350m, only to relent as Simmonds applied the pressure over the final 50m. The American, who spent two years in a vegetative state after contracting a virus, earned the praise of Simmonds after the race.

"She is an amazing athlete and I knew I had to be on top form to beat her," Simmonds said. "I knew she would push me to the best of my abilities and she did. It wouldn't have been an exceptional race or an exceptional time if she wasn't there and I am looking forward to racing her in the future but I am going to enjoy this moment."

Elsewhere in the pool, Claire Cashmore claimed silver for GB in the SB8 breaststroke, finishing behind Russian Olga Vladykina - who set a new world record. And Matt Whorwood took bronze in the S6 400m freestyle, which was won by Ireland's Darragh McDonald.

On the track, Oscar Pistorius grabbed the headlines with a new world record in the men's T44 200m. "Blade Runner" will return for the final on Sunday.

Pistorius recently competed in the London 2012 Games in both the 400m and the 4x400m relay, and he did not disappoint upon his return to the Paralympic scene. He won his heat from lane eight in a record time of 21.30, beating the 21.88s set by Brazil's Alan Oliveira earlier in the evening.

"I didn't expect it at all," Pistorius said. "I tapped off well before the line and it makes me very happy. I didn't expect a world record. Hopefully, I can go lower tomorrow."

Elsewhere on the track, Northern Ireland runners Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop won gold in the T13 100m and the T32 800m respectively. Smyth's victory came in a world record time of 10.46 seconds.

Earlier in the day, Britain claimed more gold medals on the track and at the Velodrome, with the Storey family particularly impressive.

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