Hannah Aspden and Mallory Weggemann Lead Team USA's Seven Medal Night
by Matt Whewell
TOKYO — Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, N.C.) and Mallory Weggemann (Eagan, Minnesota) led the way with gold medal performances as Team USA grabbed seven spots on the podium on the sixth night of racing at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. It was Team USA’s best performance of the Tokyo Games to date.
Team USA started the night off by capturing two of the three podium steps in the women’s 100-meter backstroke S7. Weggemann’s time of 1:21.27 set a Paralympic record and gave her a second gold medal from these Games. This is her third career Paralympic gold and fourth overall. The three-time Paralympian was joined on the podium by teammate Julia Gaffney (Mayflower, Arkansas), who earned her second medal in as many days by going 1:22.02 for bronze.
Finishing fourth in the same event was another American, McKenzie Coan (Clarksville, Georgia). The five-time Paralympic medalist went 1:23.10 and will return to the pool tomorrow for the women's 100-meter freestyle S7.
Two races later, two-time Paralympian Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, N.C.) entered the night with the top seed in the women’s 100-meter backstroke S9 and left the pool in the same spot. Her Americas record time of 1:09.22 secured her first career Paralympic gold and her third overall. Teammate Lizzi Smith (Muncie, Indiana) landed a top-five spot with a fifth-place finish clocking in at 1:14.24.
Already with a silver medal from Tokyo in her collection, Elizabeth Marks (Colorado Springs, Colorado) added one more with a bronze in the women’s 50-meter butterfly S6. The two-time Paralympian’s time of 36.83 is an Americas record and her fourth career medal at the Paralympic Games.
The women’s 200-meter individual medley SM11 saw Anastasia Pagonis (Long Island, N.Y.) reel in her second Paralympic medal at her first Games. Pagonis finished in 2:45.61 for the bronze medal.
In her Paralympic debut, Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts) picked up her first Paralympic medal after winning silver in the women’s 100-meter freestyle S3. The 2019 world champion in the event touched the wall in 1:37.68
Team USA’s seventh medal of the night came from three-time Paralympian Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri) in the women’s 200-meter individual medley S13. Young, who finished fifth in the event at the 2019 world championships, secured her spot on the podium by finishing in 2:26.80 for the silver.
First-time Paralympian David Abrahams (Havertown, Pennsylvania) narrowly found himself on the podium in the men’s 200-meter individual medley S13. The Harvard student chased down a fourth-place finish, touching the wall in 2:12.67.
The evening came to a close for the Americans with an eighth-place finish in the men’s 4x100 freestyle relay 34-point team. The team of Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Joseph Peppersack (Hopewell, Virginia), Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Indiana) and Jamal Hill (Inglewood, California) finished the event in 4:13.94.
U.S. swimmers that raced in the morning session only include Zachary Shattuck (Mt. Airy, Maryland), Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado) and McClain Hermes (Dacula, Georgia). Shattuck placed 10th overall in the men’s 50-meter butterfly S6 with a 34.43. Herzog finished in 15th in the women’s 50-meter butterfly S6 in 42.64. Hermes went 3:26.81 and placed 13th in the women’s 200-meter individual medley S11.
Team USA returns to the pool tomorrow with the seventh of 10 days of racing. Preliminary heats are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EST with finals starting at 4 a.m. EST. All races will be live streamed through NBCOlympics.com, on Peacock and through the NBC Sports app. A full schedule of events is available here.
TEAM USA MEDALS – DAY SIX (7)
- Mallory Weggemann (women’s 100m backstroke S7)
- Hannah Aspden (women’s 100m backstroke S9)
- Leanne Smith (women’s 100m freestyle S3)
- Colleen Young (women’s 200m individuals medley SM13)
- Julia Gaffney (women’s 100m backstroke S7)
- Elizabeth Marks (women’s 50m butterfly S6)
- Anastasia Pagonis (women’s 200m individual medley SM11)
Winning the gold medal is a remarkable feat, but I swim for something so much more than medals. I love to swim, and I love to continue and challenge myself to see how far I can push the needle. To go in and get a best time and for that to take home a gold medal is brilliant. It's the best way you can imagine doing it.
I'm really, really happy, excited. It didn't feel real, and it still kind of doesn’t. It was such a fun race. I don't know what I was expecting but I just wanted to go in and give it everything I had and that's what I did. It's been a long, long journey for a lot of people coming here and so just being here, being able to race, is an amazing feeling.
I'm really excited. It's pretty cool that both times I got a medal (in Tokyo), I was able to hear the national anthem. Huge congrats to Mallory Weggemann getting the gold.
There are so many people who invest time and energy in me. It’s trying to be worthy of that love and time and respect.
This one I had to put up a real fight for. I felt her [Jia Ma] right next to me, and I had to push myself and get to the wall as fast as I could. My breaststroke is not my strong point, so I really had to come back and be really powerful on my free.
It’s overwhelming and just surreal. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, but I am really excited to get to that podium and receive that silver medal.
I feel so ecstatic. I really worked on the individual medley over the past year, and I am really happy it paid off. I have to give a shout-out to David Galvin. He is not here, but I would not be a silver medalist without that kid. He pushed me in every single individual medley set, and I’m extremely grateful to have him as a training partner.