The United States had one of its best days of the Paralympics on Friday, winning five medals in swimming, five medals in track & field, and a gold medal in archery. It was also a big day in the world of team sports, as the U.S. men's and women's goalball teams played for medals, and U.S. teams in men's wheelchair basketball and women's sitting volleyball booked spots in their respective gold medal matches.
Here's a rundown of the biggest stories and top highlights from Day 10 of the Tokyo Paralympics.
Track & Field
The first-ever running of the 4x100 universal relay was a huge success for Team USA, as a dream team of athletes ran their way to a gold medal and a world record.
A new event for the Tokyo Paralympics, the universal relay brings together men and women from different disability groups into one event. Teams are comprised of two men and two women and must include one representative from the visual-impairment class, one from the limb-impairment class, one from the coordination-impairment class, and one from the wheelchair-racing class.
The United States fielded a star-studded team comprised of Noah Malone, Brittni Mason, Nick Mayhugh and Tayana McFadden—a quartet that had already accounted for seven medals so far in Tokyo—and ran the event in 45.52 seconds, a world-record time that was two seconds ahead of silver medalists Great Britain. The race was anchored by McFadden, who earned her 20th career Paralympic medal in the process.
"I was so happy that I was considered for the relay, and I knew this was the group to be in it," McFadden said after the race. "We got out really fast, we transitioned really well. There's no one else I'd rather have than these three others with me. They worked so hard to get here and trained so hard. I'm just so honored after yesterday's race [a fourth-place finish in the 400m] that I put it all together and stayed focused mentally for the team and for our country, and I'm so happy this is my 20th medal and my eighth gold medal."
It was a busy night for Mayhugh, who had just set a world record in his 200m T37 heat one hour earlier. After his heat, he predicted that'll he post an even faster time in Saturday's final.
Earlier in the day, reigning world champion Raymond Martin became the first U.S. track and field athlete to earn three medals in Tokyo with gold in the men's 100m T52, adding to his two silvers from last week's 400m and 1500m. The world record-holder now has 10 career Paralympic medals, one for ever final he's ever raced in. His gold medal returned him atop the 100m podium — after winning in London, his title defense in Rio came up short to teammate and fellow New Jerseyan Gianfranco Iannotta. The defending champion finished sixth Friday, followed by teammate Isaiah Rigo in seventh. Martin was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a skeleto-muscular impairment that restricts the movement in his joints. He learned to race in a wheelchair at age 5.
Making his Paralympic debut, American Justin Phongsavanh took bronze in the javelin F54, improving on his fourth-place finish at the most recent world championships in 2019. The 24-year-old, who broke the event's world record at U.S. Paralympic Trials in June, recorded five throws over 30 meters with a best of 31.09m on his third attempt. Hamed Amiri's Paralympic-record 31.35m earned him the gold, Iran's 10th medal of the Games, while RPC's Aleksei Kuznetsov claimed silver with 31.19m. All three men share traumatic experiences from when they injured their spinal cords: Amiri was 30 when he was involved in a car crash on his way to a strongman competition; Kuznetsov was 5 when he fell from the fifth floor of a building; and Phongsavanh was 18 when he was shot in a fast food parking lot in his hometown – the bullet passed through his upper-right arm and struck his spinal cord.
In the women's club throw F51, a field event where athletes compete while seated in a chair, Team USA's Cassie Mitchell, 40, set a new area record with a 24.18m throw, good enough for the silver medal. It's Mitchell's first medal of the Tokyo Games and the third of her Paralympic career. Ukraine's Zoia Ovsii won gold with a new Paralympic record of 25.12.
Team USA's other medal of the day was won by Hunter Woodhall, who took bronze in the men's 400m T62 final with a time of 48.61 seconds, finishing behind Johannes Floors of Germany and Olivier Hendriks of the Netherlands. Woodhall, the first double amputee to earn a Division I track and field scholarship, is now a three-time Paralympic medalist.
Meanwhile, Haider Ali earned Pakistan its first-ever Paralympic gold, taking the men's discus F37 with a fifth-attempt hurl of 55.26m. The 36-year-old, who previously won Paralympic medals in long jump, beat silver medalist Mykola Zhabnyak of Ukraine by nearly three meters. His gold made Pakistan the 84th different nation to win a medal in Tokyo, surpassing the record set five years ago in Rio.
The United States saved its best day for last as Americans captured gold medals in four consecutive races on the final day of swimming at the Tokyo Paralympics.
First up, Elizabeth Marks set a world record (1:19.57) to win the women's 100m backstroke S6. The U.S. Army sergeant now has one medal of every color from the Tokyo Paralympics after earning silver in the 50m freestyle and bronze in the 50m butterfly. Marks, who was initially injured in 2010 while deployed in Iraq, previously competed at the 2016 Paralympics, where she won a pair of medals, and then made the decision to amputate her left leg in 2017 after dealing with years of pain.
In the next race, 24-year-old Robert Griswold won the men's 100m butterfly S8 to secure his second gold medal of the Tokyo Games. Griswold, who has cerebral palsy, won his first gold one week ago in the 100m backstroke.
Then it was Jessica Long's turn to add to the medal haul by defending her 2012 and 2016 gold medals in the women's 100m butterfly S8. Long enhanced her legacy as one of the greatest Paralympians ever by accumulating six medals, including three golds, in Tokyo. The five-time Paralympian now has career tallies of 16 gold medals and 29 medals overall.
The winning spree was capped off by Evan Austin, who narrowly beat out Ukraine's Andrii Trusov by 0.05 seconds to take gold in the men's 50m butterfly S7. Trusov, 21, has been one of the most accomplished swimmers at the Tokyo Paralympics, winning a total of six medals. Austin, competing at his third Paralympics, finally has his first gold medal. He previously won bronze in last week's 400m freestyle race.
Mallory Weggemann tried to make it five-for-five, but 18-year-old Candian Danielle Dorris was uncatchable all day long in the women's 50m butterfly S7. Dorris took down Weggemann's nine-year-old world record in the prelims, clocking a blistering 33.51 to easily advance to the final. She lowered that mark even further in the final, finishing with a sub-33 time and touching the wall more than one second ahead of Weggemann. Weggemann now leaves Tokyo with two golds and a silver.
American Kevin Mather made it through five rounds of head-to-head matches to win the gold medal in the men's recurve archery competition .
Along the way Mather, ranked No. 10 in the world, took out defending Paralympic champion Gholamreza Rahimi of Iran in the Round of 16 and world No. 2 Sadik Savas of Turkey in the quarterfinals.
In the gold medal match, Mather faced off with China's Zhao Lixue. Although Mather jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first two sets, Zhao narrowed the score to 5-3 and forced a decisive fifth set. Both archers shot their best set of the match in that fifth frame, each scoring 28 out of a possible 30 points, but that tie meant that Mather would hold on for a 6-4 victory and a gold medal in his Paralympic debut.
The United States women's goalball team will leave Tokyo with a silver medal. They played Turkey in the gold medal game on Friday, but the defending Paralympic champions were dominant from the onset. Turkey scored its first goal nine seconds into the game, built a 6-1 halftime lead, then won by a final score of 9-2. Sevda Altunoluk scored all nine of Turkey's goals to lead the team to its second straight gold medal, while Asya Miller and Eliana Mason were responsible for the two American goals.
The U.S. men, however, came away empty-handed after falling to Lithuania 10-7 in the bronze medal game. In a rematch of the 2016 Rio Games gold medal final, also won by Lithuania, the score was kept close in the first half, but when things opened up in the second, Lithuania pulled away. Long ball and high ball penalties for the U.S. gave Lithuania an early 2-0 lead, then the Americans evened it up with goals from Daryl Walker and Calahan Young – Young's 19th of the tournament. Lithuania, up 3-2 at the half, continued its brilliance in the second while the U.S. incurred even more penalties, finishing with six total compared to Lithuania's zero. Marius Zibolis converted four U.S. penalties into four goals to lead Lithuania in scoring.
In the day's other medal games, Brazil defeated China 7-2 to win the gold in men's goalball, and host nation Japan earned its second Paralympic bronze in women's goalball with a 6-1 victory over Brazil.
The U.S. men are headed back to the gold medal game in wheelchair basketball after defeating Spain 66-52 in a rematch of the 2016 Paralympic final.
Powered by a dominant second quarter in which they outscored Spain 24-8, the Americans were able to build on their lead in the third quarter and were never really threatened after that. Brian Bell (20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) led the team in scoring and posted a double-double, while Jake Williams (16 points, six assists, five rebounds) and Matt Scott (12 points, five rebounds, three assists) also hit double figures in scoring.
The final score was nearly identical to the result from the Rio 2016 gold medal game: a 68-52 win for the United States.
The U.S. hasn't won consecutive titles since going back-to-back in 1972 and 1976, but it'll have a chance to break that trend when it plays Japan in the final on Saturday night (U.S. time). The host nation beat Great Britain 79-68 in the day's other semifinal.
The U.S. women's sitting volleyball team is now one win away from defending its Paralympic title.
Just as it did in the semifinals at Rio 2016, the United States swept Brazil in straight sets (25-19, 25-11, 25-23) to win its semifinal match in Tokyo. Heather Erickson's 12 points led the U.S. in scoring, with Lora Webster (10 points) just behind her.
The U.S. women will now face a familiar opponent in the gold medal match, which takes place Saturday night (U.S. time). They'll play China, who beat Canada in straight sets in the other semifinal to claim their spot in the final alongside Team USA.
This will be the fourth consecutive Paralympics that the United States and China have played each other for the gold medal. China won the gold medal match in 2008 and 2012 before finally being dethroned by the Americans in 2016. The two teams have already faced off once in Tokyo during pool play. China swept the U.S. 3-0 in that match, setting China up as the favorites going into the final.
Brazil and Canada will face off in Saturday's bronze medal match.
Japan's Keiko Sugiura captured gold in the women's road race C1-3. At 50 years old, she's Japan's oldest medalist. She also won gold in Tuesday's time trial C1-3.
Americans Clara Brown and Jamie Whitmore finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
In the men's road race C4-5, Kevin le Cunff of France claimed gold for his first medal of the Tokyo Paralympics after attempting to reach the podium in four other events.
Team USA's Cody Jung finished 16th while teammate Chris Murphy didn't finish.