Packed crowds and controversy at Paralympics

There was controversy, too, at the Velodrome, where the British favourite in the men's C4/5 1km time-trial angrily protested a decision not to allow him to restart after slipping at the start.

The day had started off well, with nearly 80 000 people packed into the Olympic Stadium in east London roaring T54 wheelchair racers around the track in the women's 5 000m heats to the astonishment of athletes.

"It was great, I've never experienced such a crowd in the morning. We all raced very well," said Switzerland's Edith Wolf, who won the second heat. "After Beijing I never thought I would have such a super cool feeling.

"The crowd were perfect."

Denmark's Jackie Christiansen, who won gold in the men's F42/44 shot with a throw of 18.16m, added: "It was really exciting out there. It was surely the biggest crowd I've seen in my lifetime.

"And the crowd were great. They were with us all the way."

'Eloquent statement'
London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe described the near sell-out crowds as a "very powerful and eloquent statement about the status of the sport" and showed they had recaptured the atmosphere of the Olympics earlier this month.

But the mood was soured after organisers admitted that the first field event gold medallist – Mariaa Pomazan of Ukraine – was wrongly awarded the F35/36 discus title.

LOCOG blamed "inaccurate results data" from the Raza system – a statistical model used in combined class field events to determine final positions on points rather than distance.

The amended result saw Pomazan relegated to silver, swapping places with China's Wu Qing, while Wu's compatriot Bao Jiongyu was relegated to fourth. Her bronze was taken by Australia's Katherine Proudfoot.


In the Velodrome, Felicity Johnson and Stephanie Morton gave Australia another track cycling gold in the velodrome, while Liang Guihua added to China's tally, winning the men's C2 individual pursuit.

Individual pursuit
Britain's Mark Lee Colbourne, a silver medallist in the C1-2-3 1km time-trial on Thursday, took the C1 3km individual pursuit in a new world record of 3mins 53.881secs.

But his team-mate Jody Cundy, the favourite in the C4/5 1km time-trial, was left angry and distraught after slipping out of the starting gate and being denied a restart by officials.

He was led away from the track shouting and swearing after throwing a water bottle, as British team officials lodged a protest. But world governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) held firm, blaming the slip on "rider error".

"It is tough for the athlete. He has trained hard for three years. I can appreciate his frustration," said UCI technical delegate Louis Barbeau of Canada.

Cundy later apologised to the crowd for his language.

Elsewhere Martine Wright, who lost both legs during the suicide bombings on London's public transport network on July 7 2005, made an emotional debut in the Paralympics, as Britain took their Games bow in sitting volleyball.

Ovation
Watched by London Mayor Boris Johnson, the 39-year-old took to the court at the ExCeL exhibition centre, receiving an ovation from the crowd, eclipsing the result which saw Ukraine win easily 25-9, 25-20, 25-14.

Wright, who was on her way to work and reading about London's successful bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics announced the day before when the bombs were triggered, has become one of the inspirational stories of the Games.

"It was absolutely amazing," she said after the match. "I've been on quite a journey the last few years.

"To be able to finally get on court in front of my friends and family that have supported me and been so important to me over the last few years was an absolute dream come true – and a dream that I never actually would have had before July 7." – Sapa-AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Schools: Confusion rather than clarity and confidence reign

The way in which Angie Motshekga has handled the reopening of schools has caused many people to lose confidence in her

The backlogs, denials and future of testing Covid-19

The National Health Laboratory Services finally admitted to a bottleneck last week, after denying there were any issues since April. According to the service, the backlog of 80 000 tests started in the first week of May
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday