Paralympics Day 7: French cycle tandem triumph, Kouakou gallops to gold in 400m

·3-min read

While Charles-Antoine Kouakou was running away with the gold medal in the 400m, it was another busy day at the Tokyo cycletrack, with French competitors monopolising the podium. Afghan Paralympian Hossain Rasouli beat the odds to compete in the long jump, having been secretly evacuated from Taliban-held Kabul.

Six gold medals for the French team already.

Sprinter Charles-Antoine Kouakou made the latest glittering contribution to the French medal haul, powering to victory in the 400m (T20) in 47 seconds 63, eight-hundredths of a second ahead of Venezuelan Luis Felipe Rodriguez, with Briton Columba Blango third.

Kouakou, a 23-year-old Parisian, is competing at his first Paralympics.

Cycle track goes red, white and blue

At the cycle track, there was a remarkable performance by the tanden cycle team of Alexandre Lloveras and Corentin Ermenault.

They won the gold medal, beating the Paralympic title-holding Danish pair by slightly less than 7 seconds over the 32 kilometres.

Loïc Vergnaud took silver for France in the road time trial H5 category, losing to Dutch rider Mitch Valize.

Alexandre Léauté got to complete his medal collection, after gold in the individual pursuit, and silver in the one kilometre time trial. In the C2 road time trial, Léauté had to settle for bronze.

And there was a bronze for Florian Jouanny in the H2 time-trial.

Afghan Paralympian beats the odds

The long jump was not the event Hossain Rasouli had been expecting to contest, after qualifying for the 100m T47, but then just about everything in his world was turned upside down with the insurgents' capture of his homeland.

After the Taliban militant group overran the capital Kabul, he and fellow Afghan Paralympian Zakia Khudadadi found themselves trapped, with no way to get to Tokyo.

A Tokyo 2020 volunteer symbolically carried the Afghan flag during the Games opening ceremony, with no athletes on the ground to take part.

Over the weekend though, officials revealed the Afghan pair had been successfully flown out of the country.

After a stop in Dubai, they were taken to Paris and spent a week at the French sports ministry's high-performance training centre before flying to Tokyo, where they arrived on Saturday evening.

The pair are being kept away from the media, with the International Paralympic Committee saying the athletes needed space to focus on their sport.

But IPC spokesman Craig Spence said on Tuesday that Rasouli was "super excited to be competing today".

The Afghan emerged from the athletes' entrance on Tuesday with a wave to team officials dotted around the mostly empty Olympic Stadium.

Rasouli, whose left hand was amputated as the result of a mine explosion, then proudly pointed towards the Afghanistan Paralympic Committee logo on his vest.

The 26-year-old finished last, reflecting his comparative inexperience in the discipline -- it was his first time taking part in the long jump in a major competition.

Still, Spence said, "it was great to see him" on what was "a very special occasion".

Zakia Khudadadi will compete in taekwondo on Thursday.

Heartbreak for the armless archer

There was heartbreak for "armless archer" Matt Stutzman, the American who is one of the world's most recognisable Paralympians.

He missed out on a medal in the men's compound open class on Tuesday when he lost in the last 16, beaten 143-137 by Slovakia's Marcel Pavlik.

The 2015 world champion was well below his best at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field and failed to make it to the quarter-final for the second successive Paralympics, having fallen at the same stage in Rio.

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