Austrian runners at the Paralympic Games in Japan won three medals on Wednesday the same as the day before. While there were gold, silver and bronze medals in the time test on Tuesday, in the road race with mild temperatures, rain and fog, there was one silver and two bronze. In the H4 class, Thomas Frühwirth and Alexander Gritsch finished second and third, as on Tuesday, Walter Applinger came third after his test title in the H3 class.
Paraplegics were responsible for the medals from seven to nine of the ÖPC team in these games. Prior to that, dressage rider Bebo Bush and triathlete Florian Brongraber had won the silver medal twice. The red, white and red team holds gold once, silver five times and bronze three times. This means that the return is slightly better than in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with one gold, four silver and one bronze. There is still time until Saturday for more successes.
Dutchman Getzi Platt was once again too strong for Forworth and Grech. Not only did he win the time trial, but he also succeeded in the triathlon against Brungraber. After 72km at the Fuji International Speedway, the 30-year-old had a time of 5:43 minutes over 40-year-old Steerer Frowth and 7:25 in the 39-year-old Tyrolean Gretsch. “He’s a very exceptional athlete, a genetic beast,” Froworth said at the finish line.
Frühwirth was frustrated with second place: “I got the absolute maximum on both days, I gave it all up. That’s why I play sports, that’s what I love.” It was a perfect day. “I increased speed on the second lap, then drove a lap and a half with Jetze until he attacked on the flat.” The Austrian couldn’t keep up. “I saw that it didn’t work, otherwise it would tear me completely apart.”
For Gritsch, due to circumstances and success, it was “the worst race of my life. I still can’t believe it myself. Bronze medal behind the top two in the world, that’s a huge honour. I did everything right again today.” On the last lap, he tried Termination somehow. “The tank was so empty that I couldn’t even solve a math problem.” Postscript: “Except for 3rd place twice”.
Things were a lot tighter at Ablinger. The 52-year-old Upper Austria was 31 seconds behind Ruslan Kuznetsov (RPC) and Heinz Frey (Switzerland). “Fortunately, it didn’t rain at first because it was very hectic in the field and no one wanted to give up even an inch,” said Applinger, who started a five-man escape group. “We worked well together, drove the Belgian rotors and thus extended our progress consistently.”
Ablinger had called the Paracycling World Championships in Canada next year as the latest career end point, but that shouldn’t be overhauled entirely yet. Applinger: “In 2023 there will be a UCI World Championship for all disciplines in Glasgow for the first time. This has always been my dream. And then there is only a year left until the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024.”
While it was his Paralympic debut that Gretsch and Frohworth also won the silver five years ago, Applinger now holds three Paralympics, each with two golds, a silver and a bronze. On the other hand, Elizabeth Egger crashed in the H1-3 class and had to give up. In addition to the abrasions, her manual bike was affected as well, which means additional shifts for mechanics. Yvonne Marzinky starts on the street on Friday.
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