American swimmers added seven more medals to Team USA's Paralympic count on Monday, with two of those athletes earning gold in dramatic fashion.
Elsewhere, Roxanne Trunnell capped off her Paralympics with yet another equestrian medal, a number of world records fell in track and field events, and the preliminary round came to a close in goalball and wheelchair basketball.
Here are the top stories from Day 6 of the Tokyo Paralympics.
A pair of thrilling comebacks resulted in two more gold medals for U.S. swimmers.
First up in the women's 100m backstroke S7 final, Mallory Weggemann chased down Canada's Danielle Dorris to win gold. Dorris built a big gap in the first 50 meters, but Weggemann made a late charge and took the lead in the final 10 meters. The win gives Weggemann her second gold medal of the Tokyo Paralympics and the third of her career.
"Winning the gold medal is a remarkable feat, but I swim for something so much more than medals," Weggemann said. "I love to swim, and I love to continue and challenge myself to see how far I can push the needle. To go in and get a best time and for that to take home a gold medal is brilliant. It's the best way you can imagine doing it."
Julia Gaffney finished in third place to earn her second bronze medal in as many days, and McKenzie Coan, who won gold yesterday, finished just off the podium in fourth.
Shortly after that, it was Hannah Aspden's turn to pull off a similar feat in the women's 100m backstroke S9 final. Aspden trailed New Zealand's Sophie Pascoe, the world record holder, at the halfway mark before eventually overtaking her in the back half of the race. Aspden, who previously won a pair of bronze medals at the 2016 Paralympics, went on to win her first gold medal.
"I'm really, really happy, excited," Aspeden said. "It didn't feel real, and it still kind of doesn’t. It was such a fun race. I don't know what I was expecting, but I just wanted to go in and give it everything I had and that's what I did. It's been a long, long journey for a lot of people coming here and so just being here, being able to race, is an amazing feeling."
Four other Americans took home medals on Day 6: Leanne Smith (women's 100m freestyle S3) and Colleen Young (women's 200m individual medley SM13) won silver, and Elizabeth Marks (women's 50m butterfly S6) and Anastasia Pagonis (women's 200m individual medley SM11) won bronze.
Track & Field
American Hagan Landry took silver in the men's shot put F41, an event in which he missed the 2019 world podium by less than eight inches, with an area-record 13.88m third attempt. The Louisiana native and LSU attendee, presumably with Hurricane Ida on his mind, beat defending Paralympic gold medalist Niko Kappel of Germany but lost to world record-holder and reigning world champion Bobirjon Omonov of Uzbekistan, whose 14.06m topped Kappel's 13.57m Games-record Rio mark for gold.
U.S. wheelchair racer Daniel Romanchuk, winner of Tokyo 400m gold Sunday, finished third in his men's 1500m T54 heat to advance to Tuesday's final. Swiss Marcel Hug, silver medalist in Rio and 2017 world champion, took the heat victory in 2:54.63, shattering the Paralympic record from 2008 by nearly six seconds. Nicknamed the "Silver Bullet," Hug was born with spina bifida and was introduced to the sport by a teacher that brought in an old racing wheelchair. Romanchuk, the third-fastest overall qualifier, was the only American to make the final – neither of his teammates, Brian Siemann or Aaron Pike, made the cut, and nor did world record-holder Brent Lakatos of Canada.
In the women's 1500m T54 prelims, Americans Tatyana McFadden and Susannah Scaroni each won their respective heats and advanced to Tuesday's final. McFadden, who has a silver and a bronze so far in Tokyo, is one medal away from her 20th all-time. Scaroni, the fastest qualifier from either heat, has earned one gold medal and one bronze medal so far at these Paralympics.
Among the numerous world records set on Monday:
- Tunisia's Walid Ktila, the two-time defending Paralympic and four-time reigning world 100m T34 champion, lowered his own Games record from Rio by .13 seconds to win gold in 15.01. The 36-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, now owns five Paralympic medals and has a chance later this week to improve upon his 2016 silver in the 800m.
- Reigning world 1500m T11 champion Monica Olivia Rodriguez Saavedra improved on her fifth-place finish in Rio by taking down the event's world record in the Tokyo final, clocking 4:37.40 to& best Zheng Jin's 4:38.92 from the 2016 Games. She and guide Kevin Teodoro Aguilar Perez made a move to the front with about 1,000 meters to go and kept the lead, fending off a late surge from South Africa's Louzanne Coetzee. Rodriguez Saavedra was initially a swimmer but found her talent on the track.
- Dinesh Priyantha of Sri Lanka unleashed a massive, 67.79m toss on his third attempt of the men's javelin F46 to smash defending Paralympic champion Devendra Jhajharia's world record by nearly four meters, earning his nation its first-ever Paralympic gold and first medal of the Games. The 2016 bronze medalist, who obliterated the 61.84m personal best with which he entered Tokyo, was shot in the left arm in 2008 while serving in the Sri Lankan Army. Jhajharia, of India, took silver.
- Reigning world shot put F54 champion Francisca Mardones of Chile, who competed in tennis at the 2012 and 2016 Games, bested her own world record from 2019 by nearly a half-foot to win Paralympic gold with 8.33m. In 2000, the 43-year-old lost mobility in her lower limbs after falling into a ravine as Hurricane Lenny hit Puerto Rico's Culebra Island. She wasn't rescued for two days and later underwent four years of rehab and multiple spine operations. Mardones finished 10th in the discus last Friday.
- India's Sumit Antil broke his own world record three separate times to win gold in the men's javelin F64 final. The 23-year-old smashed his old record on the first throw, broke it again on the second attempt, then topped it once more on his fifth throw to set the new mark at 68.55 meters. Sumit originally wanted to become a wrestler but lost his left leg after a road accident in 2015 and turned to javelin instead.
Roxanne Trunnell continued her strong performance at these Paralympic Games by winning a gold medal in the Grade I freestyle test aboard her horse Dolton. It's her second gold medal and third medal overall in Tokyo.
Last week, Trunnel earned gold in the Grade I individual test to give the United States its first Paralympic equestrian gold medal in 25 years. She followed that up by helping the U.S. get its first-ever medal, a bronze, in the team event along with Rebecca Hart and Kate Shoemaker. She's now the first American since Vicki Sweigart in 1996 to win multiple gold medals at one Paralympics.
Trunnell, a native of Washington state, has a master's degree in psychology, 10 tattoos and operates a custom-made embroidery business. She competed in able-bodied dressage into her early 20s and had Olympic ambitions before contracting a virus in 2009 that caused brain swelling and a small blood clot, putting her in a coma and requiring future use of a wheelchair. Reluctant at first to try para dressage, she made the switch in 2011. A decade later, she entered Tokyo the world No. 1.
In a rematch of the last three Paralympic finals, China swept the United States in straight sets (25-17, 25-22, 26-24) behind a strong performance from Xu Yixiao. China moved to 2-0 in pool play, while the U.S. dropped to 1-1.
This result makes Team USA's final preliminary match a must-win. The U.S. women play the RPC on Wednesday, and with both teams tied in the standings, the winner will secure a spot in the semifinal round, and the loser will see its tournament come to an end.
Winless and on the brink of possible elimination, a far cry from its undefeated gold-medal run in Rio, Lithuania needed to avoid a defeat by more than six goals in its last preliminary-round game to go through to the quarterfinals. And the defending Paralympic champion men's team accomplished just that, plus more, trouncing the United States via mercy rule 13-3 to end the group-play stage with a 1-2-1 record. The U.S., which lost to Lithuania in the Rio gold-medal game, fell to 2-2 — its other loss in Tokyo, 11-1 against Japan last Friday, was also a mercy defeat.
The Lithuanians took an early 4-0 lead on a successful penalty attempt and three superb shots, proceeded to concede a few goals to the Americans while still answering back, then separated at the half by six. They scored four straight in less than six minutes to open up the second and seal the win. Lithuania is notably missing Mantas Panovas, who helped the team qualify but retired due to the postponement. But it does however still have Genrik Pavliukianec, who exited retirement at age 45 to help the team defend its title. Nerijus Montvydas led the team with five goals. Matt Simpson had two for the U.S.
On the women's side, the United States handed Turkey its first loss of the tournament after winning a defensive showdown. Trailing 3-2 at halftime, the U.S. got a pair of second-half goals from Amanda Dennis to put the team ahead for a 4-3 victory. The U.S. finished tied with Turkey atop its group at 3-1, though Turkey will be the top seed thanks to a better goal differential.
Up next for both the men's team and women's team is the quarterfinal round. The U.S. men play Ukraine on Tuesday and the women play the RPC on Wednesday.
The U.S. men closed out the group stage by dominating Algeria for a 86-25 victory. Josh Turek (21 points, six assists) and Matt Scott (16 points, nine rebounds, six assists) led the way in a game where the outcome was never in doubt.
With a 3-1 record, Team USA finished second in Group B and will match up against Turkey on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The Americans are the defending Paralympic champions in the men's event.