Australia’s Freney leads the way for London Paralympic gold
Australia has a rich history of producing top Paralympic swimmers and Jacqueline Freney is set to continue that tradition. The 20-year-old comfortably pulled away from the field in the S7 100m backstroke to win the nation’s first gold medal of the Games in the pool.
AUSTRALIA has a rich history of producing top Paralympic swimmers and Jacqueline Freney is set to continue that tradition.
Based on her opening efforts at the London Paralympic Games, she better at least start clearing space in her bag for medals.
The 20-year-old comfortably pulled away from the field in the S7 100m backstroke to win the nation’s first gold medal of the Games in the pool.
The scary thing is despite taking three and a half seconds off her personal best, she had only been aiming to make the final going into the Games.
After collecting three bronze medals in Beijing, Freney believes this is her time to shine.
“I was only 16 in Beijing so I did not really know what to expect,” she said.
“I know what to expect now and I am focused and confident in my abilities.
“I am not living in other peoples’ shadows.”
Australia has developed some of the finest Paralympic swimmers in history in the likes of Priya Cooper, Matthew Cowdrey and Siobhan Paton.
Whether Freney is able to match or come close to their accomplishments remains to be seen.
However Freney, who has cerebral palsy diplegia, has plenty of confidence and that must count for something.
“I went into the backstroke thinking that I would just make the final and I have come up with the gold medal so I am stoked,” she said.
“It gives me the confidence to go out there and smash my other races.”
She believes her 400m freestyle background allows her to blow away her rivals in the back end of the sprinting events.
Freney will compete in up to another seven events.
Meanwhile cyclist Kieran Modra has said that London will be his final Games after winning a third straight Paralympic tandem pursuit title.
The vision-impaired South Australian rider recovered from gruesome injuries sustained in a horrific crash last December to compete at his seventh Games.
He combined with pilot Scott McPhee for a resounding victory in the 4000m event but said that he was ready to exit the sport.
“This is my last. I don’t think Scott could handle me any longer,” he said with a laugh.
“I think our team dynamics have gone through a lot of trauma over the past 18 months.
“There is a lot of relief because this is our main event, so now we can go into the other races without so much pressure and really enjoy them.”
After Day 1 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Australia sat in second position on the Medal Table behind China, with three golds, three silvers and three bronzes.
Canberra’s Sue Powell claimed our first gold medal of the campaign in the C4 3km individual pursuit before golds to Modra and Feney had Australia looking good. – AAP