Aussie star defies injury to snare silver

Australia's Rheed McCracken claimed the silver medal in the men's 100m T34 final at the Paralympics.
Australia's Rheed McCracken claimed the silver medal in the men's 100m T34 final at the Paralympics.

Australian Rheed McCracken has overcome a rib injury to snare a silver medal for the third Paralympics in a row in the men's T34 wheelchair 100m.

Favourite and world record holder Walid Ktila had denied McCracken his golden dream at the past two Paralympics.

And it was a familiar story on Monday morning in Tokyo, with 36-year-old Tunisian Ktila producing a stunning start on the way to his third consecutive Paralympic gold medal in the event.

Ktila crossed the line first in a Paralympics record time of 15.01 seconds, with McCracken second in 15.37.

Mohamed Alhammadi, from the United Arab Emirates, claimed bronze in 15.66.

After the race, McCracken revealed he had popped a rib about five days ago.

He fought through the pain to put in a brave effort in the final.

Ktila was clearly the fastest off the line, setting up a big early lead.

McCracken made a move shortly after but he wasn't able to close the gap that Ktila had created.

"I feel really good about it. It's something I'm really proud of," McCracken told the Seven Network.

"I go into all of them thinking this is going to be the year, and it was no different this year.

I did everything, so I'm pretty happy with it.

"Three in this event - I'd take that any day, that's for sure."

McCracken, who has cerebral palsy, was just 15 when he won silver in the 100m event at the 2012 Paralympics in London.

The 24-year-old followed it up with another silver at Rio 2016.

Although Ktila was the favourite for Monday's race, McCracken had beaten him previously and held out hope of finally cracking through for gold.

"We've been able to beat him in other events, so we know it can be done," McCracken said.

"It's just whenever we get to these (Paralympics), he just goes to another level. He just seems to rise when he needs to.

"The times weren't really that fast. I felt we could have gone a bit quicker and made more of a contest out of it, but that's OK.

"That was the first race we've done since 2019, so I'll take that."

McCracken's coach Andrew Dawes was proud of the effort, and he's already thinking what needs to be done to prepare for the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

"The Tunisian's start has kept me awake throughout the last five years, so it's going to keep me awake for another three years," Dawes said.

"We'll just have to keep working on a way to close that gap. But I couldn't be more prouder."

McCracken will race in the 800m in Tokyo, an event in which he won bronze in Rio five years ago.

Australian Associated Press