Double first for Australia's Curtis McGrath who wins second gold in canoe sprint

TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 03: Curtis McGrath of Team Australia celebrates winning the Gold Medal after he competes in the Canoe Sprint - Men's Kayak Single 200m Final on day 10 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on September 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 03: Curtis McGrath of Team Australia celebrates winning the Gold Medal after he competes in the Canoe Sprint - Men's Kayak Single 200m Final on day 10 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on September 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Celebrations for Australia's Curtis McGrath who powers to victory in the men's Va'a single 200m VL3 to claim his second gold and retain his Paralympic titles; while Great Britain adds two gold and a bronze to it's medal haul of seven won at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Australia’s Curtis McGrath reigns supreme in the canoe sprint winning his second gold medal of Tokyo 2020 in the men's Va'a single 200m VL3 and successfully retaining his Paralympic titles.

The 33-year-old fought off an early challenge from Great Britain’s Stuart Wood, who blasted out of the blocks, to power away from the field in the last 100m to cross the line in 50.53 to claim gold. He was more than a full second ahead of Brazil’s Giovane Vieira de Paula, 23, in silver.

Woods, 27, who set a Paralympic best time in the heats of 50.00, finished two seconds behind to take bronze.

The result on Day 11 at the Sea Forest Waterway meant McGrath retained the two gold medals that he won in Rio 2016. He claimed victory in the men’s kayak single 200m KL2 on Day 10 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The 10-time world champion, who lost his legs in a mine blast while serving with the Australian army in Afghanistan in 2012, said after his second win: “I’m just one piece of a puzzle that creates this moment and these Games. From the battlefield of Afghanistan, laying in the dirt and potentially going to die, all the people from that moment all the way through my recovery and up to here, and my family and friends beyond that, all of the effort and the work they put in to support me, this is just a tribute to that.”

Elsewhere Great Britain also continued its winning form with two golds and a bronze to add to the gold and two bronzes won on Day 10. The seven medals in total eclipsed the five won in Rio 2016 and put them at the top of the table for the sport at Tokyo 2020.

The first two came in the women’s kayak single 200m KL2 when Charlotte Henshaw, 34, lowered the Paralympic best time that she set in the heats to cross the line in 50.76. She landed just ahead of teammate Emma Wiggs, 41, who added silver to the gold medal she won the previous day in the Va’a single 200m VL2. Hungary’s Katalin Varga, 35, took the bronze.

“It’s amazing. I feel a real sense of gratitude that I got the opportunity that I was able to race for this medal," said Henshaw. "Twelve months ago we weren’t sure if we were going to get this opportunity, so I think the first and biggest thanks needs to go to Japan for putting on an incredible Games in such difficult circumstances and allowing us to showcase our hard work from over the last five years.”

On sharing the podium with her teammate Wiggs: “It was a fantastic race and incredible that Emma and I were able to again get the top two steps on the podium. It just shows the strength that we have in British canoeing, and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

The second gold went to Laura Sugar, who also set a blistering pace in the women’s kayak single 200m KL3, to finish with a Paralympic best time of 49.58. France’s Nelia Barbosa came second on 51.55, which was just ahead of Germany’s Felicia Laberer.

Germany’s Edina Mueller won the first of the five finals on 4 September. The 38-year-old silver medallist in Rio 2016 crossed the line to claim gold in the women’s kayak single 200m KL1 in 53.95. Ukraine’s two-time world champion Maryna Mazhula, 38, finished just behind in 54.80. Chile’s Katherine Wollermann, 29, a world champion bronze medallist, took home the bronze.

The fifth gold medal was won by Brazil’s Fernando Rufino de Paulo in the men’s Va’a single 200m VL2. The 36-year-old smashed the Paralympic best time set by USA’s Steven Haxton in the heats to finish in 53.07. Haxton, 30, who came fourth in Rio, crossed the line in 55.09 to take silver followed by Portugal’s Norberto Haxton in bronze.