Aileen McGlynn and Fin Graham both delivered silver medal winning performances as the Paralympic Games gather pace in Japan.
Alongside her pilot, Helen Scott, McGlynn was in action in the Women’s B 1000m Time Trial, having won silver in this event at London 2012. McGlynn and Scott started second of the 10 pairs, and produced a stunning opening lap of 20.835 seconds which would not be bettered over the course of the competition.
And their time of 1:06.743 not only gave them an early lead but stood in the gold medal position until the very last riders - Larissa Klaassen of the Netherlands with her pilot Imke Brommer – it took a Paralympic record for the Dutch pair to snatch gold.
McGlynn’s achievements were all the more remarkable given that the 48-year-old only came out of retirement earlier this year after the legendary GB rider Sophie Thornhill retired. The silver was the seventh Paralympic medal of McGlynn’s career and her first in nine years, since winning a silver in this event, and bronze in the individual pursuit, at London 2012.
Of the significance of silver, McGlynn said:
“This feels like redemption for London which was a bit of a disappointment for us. Although we got silver this time, we worked so hard and the partnership has been fantastic. We’ve only really been together for the last 12 weeks and it’s been amazing.
“I wasn’t really competing last year, I was just riding my bike, and it was only with Sophie retiring that I was approached just to try out. So to come back with a lifetime personal best has been an amazing feeling.”
Also contesting this event as pilot for Sophie Unwin was Jenny Holl, who has only just made the transition to para-cycling. That pair also produced a strong ride, just off the podium in fifth – both British pairings will be in action again in the Women's B 3000m Individual Pursuit Final in the early hours of Saturday morning.
It was an all-British men’s pursuit final that provided the Great Britain team with one of the highlights of the Paralympics to date, Fin Graham signalling his intent in qualifying as he shattered the world record by nearly seven seconds, posting a time of 3:19.780.
That old world record had stood for seven years but Graham’s stood for a matter of minutes before team-mate van Gass recorded a breath-taking new mark of 3:17.593, carrying the two GB team-mates through to a gold medal showdown.
In the final, van Gass took an early advantage of just over half a second over the opening kilometre of the 12-lap race, but Strathpeffer’s Graham stuck to his task. It was the more experienced van Gass who slowly built his advantage, but Fin, just 21 years-of-age and 14 years younger than his compatriot fought hard for gold all the way.
In the end though he had to settle for silver, just a second down, but he could be absolutely delighted to win a Paralympic medal at his maiden Games.
“I don’t really know what to say! Thank you so much to everybody that got up in the very early hours of the morning to watch my races. The amount of messages I have received has been unbelievable and I will respond to everyone as it means so much to me.
“There have been so many people that have been working behind the scenes to help me get to this point and I would not have done it without them, especially my family.
“I now have a few days off before the road racing begins, so I can cheer on my teammates for the rest of the track days.”
Finn takes on both the Men's C3 Time Trial and the Men's C1-3 Road Race, which take place in the early hours of Tuesday and Thursday respectively.