Swimmer Cameron Leslie won gold in the 150m IM in record time at the Beijing Paralympics on Sunday to secure New Zealand’s 12th medal.
The 18-year-old from Whangarei, who is studying communications in Auckland, said he wasn’t expecting to be so dominant and attributed his medal to hard work at training.
“Bloody awesome. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I don’t really remember much of it. I’m very surprised.”
Leslie said his aim had been to finish in the top five.
He shot out to a quick lead in the backstroke lap but Spain’s Viente Javier Torres slowly gained on him in the breaststroke.
In the final freestyle length Leslie surged ahead of Torres to finish in a world record time of 2min 33.57sec. The Spaniard was second in 2min 40.11sec.
Leslie, who has a quadruple limb deficiency, said he was thrilled to get a world record time along with the win and was buoyed by the support of the New Zealanders looking on.
Earlier in the day he blitzed the field in his heat to become the fastest qualifier in a time 2min 40.43sec.
Leslie said he might take next year off competitive swimming and play wheelchair rugby instead, but was looking to have a crack at the Paralympics in London in 2012.
In the women’s T44 100m Wellington’s Kate Horan finished in fifth behind winner April Holmes from the United States.
At the cycling road race the tandem pair of Jayne Parsons and pilot Annaliisa Farrell were eighth.
Meanwhile, the Wheelblacks restored some pride after two previous losses by beating Germany 40-31.
The Wheelblacks were the defending champions in wheelchair rugby but are out of medal contention with fifth place their best hope.
Captain and top scorer Dan Buckingham said before the match he “would like to go to bed happy tonight”.
“The last two nights have been gut-wrenching and it’s not easy to go to sleep,” Buckingham said.
“We didn’t achieve the perfect game but we had fun,” he said after last night’s win.
“Fifth is as good as we can get and there’s no way we’re going home with less.”
New Zealand play China in the 5-8 playoffs on Monday at 3pm local time. Also in action will be team captain Tim Prendergast in the 800m final as well as Matt Slade in the 200m heats and Southland’s Jess Hamill in the shot put finals.