Gold for Australia's Brayden Davidson

Gold medallist Davidson had help from on high

ATHLETICS: After delivering a personal best to win Australia's first track-and-field gold medal in Rio, teenager Brayden Davidson paid tribute to his late grandmother for putting him on the path to the Paralympics.

Davidson, who has cerebral palsy, leapt a Paralympics record of 5.62 metres in the T36 long jump (for athletes with co-ordination impairments), winning on countback after Brazilian Rodrigo Parreira da Silva matched the Australian's distance.

Speaking after his victory, Davidson recalled a crucial turning point when he was six years old and his grandparents saw a newspaper article on two of Australia's Paralympians.

"They were massive supporters of me," the 18-year-old said of his grandmother Moira, who died early last year, and grandfather Bob, who passed away in 2014.

"Later on tonight when all the excitement dies down, I shall just sit by myself and take some time. I will just look up and have a think. Nanna, grandad, I did it.

"My nanna was the one that gave me the dream of even going to the Paralympics.

"She just said 'maybe one day if you keep on going that can be you out there competing for Australia at the Paralympics'."

Australia's Brayden Davidson celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's long jump T36 athletics event of the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)
Australia's Brayden Davidson celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's long jump T36 athletics event of the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel) Mauro Pimentel

Competing at his first Paralympics, Davidson admitted to performing beyond his own expectations in a field that included reigning Paralympic champion Roman Pavlyk, who took bronze with a leap of 5.61m.

Both Davidson and da Silva produced their 5.62m efforts first-up - the Aussie beating his previous personal best by 11cm.

His second-best effort beat the Brazilian's mark by 2cm, delivering Australia an elusive gold medal in athletics.

"I was lacking a bit of self-confidence going in. I just wanted to get that first jump out of the way," Davidson said.

"I'm 18. I don't expect to win. I just wanted some experience, maybe for next time."

Davidson did not restrict his gratitude to his late grandparents.

"All my family is back home in Adelaide," he said.

"I'd just like to thank my family and my friends for everything that they've done, putting up with me and helping me out through all the tough times we've had."

Also in athletics, Bundaberg's Rheed McCracken took bronze in the T34 (wheelchair) 100m final with a time of 15.34 seconds.

McCracken won silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m at the London Paralympics.


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