Paige Greco claimed Australia’s first gold at the Paralympics. Photo: OIS/Thomas
Australian cyclist Paige Greco became the first Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold medallist after winning the women’s 3,000m individual pursuit at the Izu Velodrome.
The 24-year-old even set a world record time of 3 minutes, 50.815 seconds. The Australian sped along with an average speed of 46.791 to prevail ahead of Chinese Wang Xiaomei and German Denise Schlinder, who came in second and third, respectively.
Greco is a relative newcomer to para track cycling, first competing internationally at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships Apeldoorn in 2019, making her success all the more remarkable. She commented on her rise, saying:
“Yeah, I’m fairly new to it. 2019 was my first international competitions, so it’s been a pretty awesome few years. I’m loving every bit of it.
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Schlinder was the first medal of the Games, with bronze being recorded just beforehand. She was very happy with her time having broken her personal best, saying: “To do a 3.55 was just tremendously amazing. To get six seconds faster than my personal best before, so I was relieved everything followed for me.
“It felt like a gold medal and I’m super-happy with the bronze. It’s just amazing for me.”
The 35-year-old credits her carefully curated music playlist, that she listens to before competition, for helping push herself to her best, saying: “When I have to push myself it’s (German industrial metal band) Rammstein (laughs). Everyone knows that it’s really pushing me. But if I need to calm down it’s more like relaxing music.
“However, how much I’m excited it either brings me down if I’m too pushy before or if I have to push myself up, so it’s a mixture of two opposites,” she concluded.
A gold medal for all people living with MS globally
Australia then took another gold in the women’s cycling track C4 3000m individual pursuit with a world record win of 3:38.061 seconds by first-time Paralympian Emily Petricola.
Petricola shared that she hoped the win would be meaningful for the 2.3 million people globally who like her live with Multiple sclerosis (MS), saying: “MS is a horrible disease. It takes a really big toll on your life, your whole life changes with it. And I really hope that people with MS see this and feel that there is a lot that you can do and achieve despite what’s going on with your body.
“I’ve been working really hard. Before cycling I did athletics and that built a really good foundation of strength and my ability of how to race and how to pace myself on race day,” she explained.