Paige Greco has won Australia’s first gold medal at the Paralympics in Tokyo smashing her own world record in the women’s pursuit.
The 24-year-old from South Australia obliterated the world record by seven seconds in her heat and took another two seconds off that time to win the final of the C3 3,000metre individual pursuit on Wednesday afternoon.
She beat China’s Xiaomei Wang, shocking even herself with the stunning time.
‘I’m so happy, I just can’t believe it,’ an emotional Greco said through tears following the race.
‘It was so amazing, I got a little bit teary, I’d thought about that moment for so long.
Her teammate Emily Petricola then made it back to back gold medals for Australia in the next race, catching American Shawn Morelli to win the women’s C4 individual 3,000m pursuit.
It was so amazing, I got a little bit teary, I’d thought about that moment for so long,’ Greco said of hearing the national anthem at the medal presentation
Paige Greco has won Australia’s first gold medal at the Paralympics in Tokyo smashing her own world record in the women’s pursuit
‘I’m so happy, I just can’t believe it,’ an emotional Greco said through tears following the race
Greco, who has cerebral palsy, finished with a time of 3:50.815 in the final, going past her heat time of 3:52.283.
Greco had only been competing in cycling since 2017, having previously competed in athletics.
‘I never thought I’d be here for cycling in Tokyo, it was definitely a good move,’ she told Seven after the race. ‘I don’t regret it at all.’
Greco said she would relax until it was time to compete again next Tuesday in the C3 time trial, as she thanked her family back home.
‘I just want to say I love them all and thanks for your support and having my back through all the ups and down,’ she said. ‘I can’t wait to celebrate when I get home.’
Greco had broken the world record in the event in her heat.
‘I went in thinking I’ve just got to stick to the schedule my coaches and I had planned.
‘I’d been working very hard on that schedule of training. I probably doubted myself a few times, but my coach and the staff, they all really believed in me and pushed me to tell me I do have it in me. I’m so happy.’
Greco announced her talent in para-cycling at the 2019 UCI Track World Championships in the Netherlands, when she set three world records in two days and was crowned world champion in the women’s 500m time trial C3 and women’s 3km individual pursuit C3, and won a silver medal in the women’s scratch race C3.
She then recaptured her pursuit crown at the 2020 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Canada.
Greco had previously nominated her favourite sporting moment as Simone Biles’ winning floor routine at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Emily Petricola joined Paige Greco in winning gold on the track after she caught American Shawn Morelli to win the women’s C4 individual 3,000m pursuit
Her stunning win was followed immediately by another for Australia with Petricola producing a fantastic effort to chase down her American opponent.
Petricola was overcome by tears as her team surrounded her following the win, making it a golden afternoon for the country in the velodrome.
‘I’m so surprised that that just happened,’ Petricola said.
‘I didn’t know where she was, I had no idea. ‘It’s shocking.’