Tokyo Paralympics: Curtis McGrath defends title with gold in kayak single 200m KL2

Ben SmithThe West Australian
TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 02: Curtis McGrath of Team Australia compete in the Men's Va'a Single - VL3 200m Heat 1 on day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on September 02, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) Dean Mouhtaropoulos
Camera IconTOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 02: Curtis McGrath of Team Australia compete in the Men's Va'a Single - VL3 200m Heat 1 on day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on September 02, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) Dean Mouhtaropoulos Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Canoe sprinter Curtis McGrath has successfully defended his Paralympic gold medal, winning Australia’s 18th of the Tokyo Paralympics in the process.

McGrath made it gold medals at back-to-back Paralympics in the kayak single 200m KL2 with an emphatic victory, winning his final by more than a second.

McGrath had broken his own Paralympic record in the semi-final earlier this morning, and backed up his time of 41.134 with a similarly scintillating performance in the final.

A four-time KL2 world champion, McGrath led for most of the race and slowly extended his lead over the course of the sprint, finishing in a time of 41.426 seconds.

It came a day after the defending champion had almost missed qualifying for the final after having what he referred to as one of his worst-ever races in the heats.

McGrath finished third in his heat and missed automatic qualification to the final after he dramatically veered off course at the end of his race and collected a floating box at the finishing line.

Blaming an issue with his canoe’s rudder, McGrath finished third in the heat, but was able to make amends in this morning’s semi-final.

Watching on from their home in Queensland, McGrath’s wife Rachel told 7Sport her husband was thankful to get to compete on the world stage given the events of the past 18 months.

“There was definitely a period of time where we were worried about the coronavirus increasing in Tokyo and we had a moment where we were worried about the Paralympics not even going ahead,” she said.

“We’re grateful and Curt was so grateful and ready to race, when he got there, he was so excited to be there and given the opportunity to go for another medal.”

TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 02: Curtis McGrath of Team Australia compete in the Men's Kayak Single 200m - KL2 on day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on September 02, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) Dean Mouhtaropoulos
Camera IconTOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 02: Curtis McGrath of Team Australia compete in the Men's Kayak Single 200m - KL2 on day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on September 02, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) Dean Mouhtaropoulos Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

McGrath will be back in action in the Va’a single 200m VL3 final on Saturday morning as he aims to win his second gold of the games.

There was more canoeing joy for Australia earlier, as Susan Seipel took out a silver medal in the women’s Va’a single 200m VL2.

Seipel won a bronze in the kayak single 200m KL2 in Rio, and will be hoping for a similar result when she competes in the semi-finals of the same even on Saturday morning.

Dylan Littlehales was heartbreakingly close to completing an Australian set of medals in the canoeing this morning when he finished fourth in the men’s kayak single 200m KL3.

At his debut games, Littlehales was denied a bronze medal by the barest of margins, finishing just 0.08 seconds back of Great Britain’s Robert Oliver.

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