BACKED UP: Carol Cooke proudly displays her gold medal for the 15km T2 time trial in Rio.
BACKED UP: Carol Cooke proudly displays her gold medal for the 15km T2 time trial in Rio.

Cooke ices gold defence

CYCLING: Carol Cooke made a great day in the Paralympics road cycling even better for Australia when she won gold in the 15km T2 time trial.

The 55-year-old, who won the same event in London, finished first in the final road race of the day, adding to three silver and two bronze medals the team had captured already.

Cooke said she put a lot of pressure on herself to perform.

"I could say there was none but there was huge expectation,” she said.

"I actually wrote a blog: how it's not about going for the gold; it's about having the perfect race; and that was not perfect.”

Cooke said she felt there was a perception that she was expected to win gold.

"I just put in my blog that I hoped everyone still realised that we still put more than 100% effort into what we do and no matter where we place on the day,” she said.

Despite all the pressure, Cooke finished 38.27 seconds ahead of American Jill Walsh.

"I didn't actually think when I finished that I medalled because I heard all the Americans cheering and jumping around,” she said.

"I actually had our physio call the coach and say 'Carol wants to know if she even medalled'.”

Cooke has multiple sclerosis, a condition that can be worse on different days.

"The heat is actually really bad (for it),” she said. "It makes all the symptoms a lot worse.”

The gold medallist had a strategy to deal with the heat, though, wearing ice vests and cold towels right up to the last moment.

Cooke said the race was difficult because of the windy weather.

"My trike kept getting pushed around because of the camber,” she said.

"It felt good, though. I was really prepared to do it exactly the way I did it - go with the wind, just go fast and really try to power home.

"I guess it will sink in in the next couple of days that I've done it again four years later and I didn't even know if I'd be here.”

At her second Paralympics, Cooke wouldn't rule out coming back for the Paralympics in 2020.

"(Tokyo) 2020 is a long way away and I'm 55. In saying that, Hans-Peter Durst, who just won the men's T2 category, is 58. So I figure I'd only be 59 in 2020 but I just take it one year at a time.

"I said that after 2012, that I'd take it one year at a time, and, look, I'm here, the sky's the limit.”

Earlier, Sunshine Coast's Kyle Bridgwood and Alistair Donhoe won silvers in the C4 and C5 time trials respectively, while vision-impaired cyclist Kieran Modra and pilot David Edwards clinched a bronze in the B class tandem time trial.

Track pursuit silver medallist Sue Powell claimed bronze in the C4 20km time trial, while hand-cyclist Stuart Tripp won silver in the 20km H5, finishing just 2.74 seconds behind former Formula 1 driver Alessandro Zanardi of Italy.

C3 3000m individual pursuit gold medallist David Nicholas, from Proserpine, finished an unlucky fourth in his time trial.


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