From Fanie van der Merwe diving across the finishing line at London 2012 to Yanina Martinez’s historic performance in Brazil – we take a look at the best 100m Paralympic finals of the past decade.
London 2012: Women’s T35 Final
The People’s Republic of China’s LIU Ping arrived at London 2012 as the reigning world record holder and took her place in the 100m T35 final alongside Canada’s Virginia McLachlan and the European champion Oxana Corso, from Italy.
The double was up for grabs for Liu, who had beaten both Corso and McLachlan on her way to clinching gold in the 200m final just a few days earlier. It was set to be a classic showdown at a packed Olympic Stadium, and it didn’t disappoint.
Liu quickly found her groove and, having established a slight lead after just a few strides, eventually soared ahead and clocked a world record time of 15.44 seconds to win gold.
Corso finished second and McLachlan third, in a carbon copy of the 200m final.
London 2012: Men’s T37 Final
Republic of South Africa’s Fanie van der Merwe broke a world record in the T37 heats and anticipation was high that another record would fall in the final. The line-up included LIANG Yongbin from the People’s Republic of China and Russian Federation’s newly crowned 200m gold medallist Roman Kapranov, who had won that race in a world record time.
And so it proved. Straight off the blocks, van de Merwe and Liang surged into the lead and while others streamed forward in their bid to catch up, the pair continued their relentless drive to the finish line.
Neck-and-neck with just metres to go and with the crowd roaring in delight, van de Merwe thrust his head forward and outstretched his arm in one last push for Paralympic glory as he fell over the line.
Both he and Liang clocked identical world record times of 11.51 seconds in a dramatic photo-finish, but after a long and nervous wait, the gold was eventually awarded to van der Merwe as his chest was shown to have crossed the line, albeit mid-flight, first.
Kapranov won bronze with a time of 11.56 seconds.
Rio 2016: Women’s T36 final
Yanina Martinez was already a star when she arrived at Rio 2016 after clinching two gold medals for Argentina at the 2015 Parapan American Games and was selected to be flagbearer for her country at the World Championships later that year.
Argentina hadn’t won a Paralympic gold medal since 1996, and hopes were high that Martinez would be the one to eventually end the drought as she qualified first from her heat, but it wasn’t going to be straightforward.
Martinez took her place on the starting line alongside Germany’s Claudia Nicoleitzik – the multiple World and European 100m and 200m medallist – and Tascitha Oliveira Cruz from Brazil, who also qualified first from her heat.
Cruz stormed into an early lead but with the finishing line drawing ever closer, her leg gave way allowing Martinez to surge past and claim Argentina’s elusive gold in a time of 14.46 seconds. Nicoleitzik held her nerve to claim silver over Martha Liliana Hernandez Florian from Columbia who took bronze.
London 2012: Men’s T13 Final
Ireland’s Jason Smyth reached the 100m T13 final having broken his own world record in qualifying with a time of 10.54 in a heat which also saw Republic of South Africa’s Jonathan Ntutu break the African record.
Smyth, already a multiple World and European champion, was a clear favourite and arrived at London 2012 with the double-double up for grabs, having previously scooped gold in the 100m and 200m at Beijing 2008.
From the blocks, Smyth eased into his stride and blew the field apart to set a new world record as he clocked 10.46.
Remarkably, Ntutu, Luis Felipe Gutiérrez from Cuba, and Russian Federation’s Alexey Labzin were separated by just a hundredth of a second – Gutiérrez claimed silver with a time of 11.02 seconds, with Ntutu edging Labzin to bronze, despite both clocking 11.03.
Rio 2016: Men’s T38 final
After winning consecutive gold medals at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, Australia’s Evan O’Hanlon arrived in Rio 2016 as clear favourite for the treble.
But the multiple World Champion was set to face a strong challenge from Brazil’s Edson Pinheiro – the 2015 Parapan American Games gold medallist – and HU Jianwen from the People’s Republic of China, who was the fastest to qualify.
And so it proved, with Hu storming out of blocks to stun the Olympic Stadium as he flashed past the finish line to set a new world record; three tenths of a second faster than O’Hanlon who claimed silver.