13 Sep 2016

NZ Paralympians revel in Rio success

7:43 pm on 13 September 2016

New Zealand's most successful Paralympian Sophie Pascoe says she wasn't aware she'd surpassed the legendary Eve Rimmer until she got out of the pool in Rio.

Pascoe won her women's 100m butterfly final today, her third gold medal in Rio.

She has taken her overall career title to 14 Paralympics medals - nine of which are gold - and still has a race to come.

Her total medal count equals that of the late Eve Rimmer, who won eight gold medals in field events.

"It hasn't quite sunk in yet and I only found out that fact today after my race ... All I do is go out and do what I love, and I want to challenge myself. Yes, it's been a great Games so far, but I still have one race to go," Pascoe said.

"I've set myself high standards ... and I'm always trying to be better. Doing a personal best is a world record time for me in the 100m 'fly, didn't quite make it, was point five out of it, but hey I left everything I had in the pool.

"And I've got to remember I've taken on a challenge within a challenge, with taking on five events in five days, so I have just raced eight races in four days, so it is tough," she said.

Eve Rimmer

Eve Rimmer Photo: Supplied

Fellow swimmer Cameron Leslie won the men's 150m individual medley race, setting a world record in the process and defending titles from 2008 and 2012.

"To put it altogether on race day was hugely satisfying because you can do a time like that in training, but it's a whole different thing to do it in a race situation," he said.

"Especially when you have got a crowd watching and a whole country behind you; it's a different type of pressure you have got to perform under."

Chasing a third straight gold made for a very different scenario to when he won his first gold medal in Beijing eight years ago, he said.

"You go from being the hunter to being the hunted. I'm a big fan of getting behind the blocks and simply trusting all the training you have done, 'cause you can't stand behind the blocks and question any of the training you have done if you want to win a gold medal.

"Just knowing what I've done in training is the right stuff, and knowing my coach and I have a good thing going on that we believe in."

Liam Malone has added the 200m gold medal to his 100m gold.

New Zealander Liam Malone has added the 200m gold medal to his 100m gold. Photo: Photosport

New Zealand's third gold of the day came on the track, where Liam Malone won his 200m sprint final, beating the Paralympic record of Oscar Pistorius in the process.

It's Malone second medal of the Rio Games after coming second in his 100m category, and he's also set to chase victory in the 400m.

Malone said he went into the race in a confident frame of mind.

"I nearly broke Oscar's record yesterday and I was really confident I could back it up if I got some sleep and I did ... and when I got out on the track I was feeling pretty free and it was just sweet."

Malone only took up the sport three years ago, and this is his first Paralympics, yet he is on the verge of a hat-trick of gold medals at one Games.

"Even in hindsight I think it's a crazy vision and it was unreaslistic ... I felt in my heart I was up there with the best of them but statistically I'd look at the times and think well 'you need to set you expectations slightly lower' ... but then I came and just put all my heart and my soul into it and it's paid [off]."

New Zealand also picked up a bronze medal on Wednesday with swimmer Nikita Howarth finishing third in her 50m butterfly final.

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