On day four of the Tokyo Paralympics, Americans Susannah Scaroni and Tatyana McFadden claimed gold and bronze, respectively, in the women’s 5000m T54. Switzerland’s Manuela Schaer claimed silver.
During Saturday’s final, Scaroni pulled away from the pack with seven laps remaining. McFadden, competing in her sixth Paralympics (and fifth in track & field), made a tactical choice not to follow. The two athletes train together in Champaign, Illinois, along with seventh-place finisher Jenna Fesemyer.
“I wanted Team USA to win a gold, and I saw my teammate out front. I knew if I hung in the back and protected her, we would be just fine,” McFadden explained. “I knew she could hold that speed forever because we train together. I believed in her, I believed in myself, and it worked out so well.”
Scaroni, who hails from Tekoa, Washington, echoed the sentiment. “Tatyana didn’t make a chase, which meant they didn’t catch up over those seven laps,” she said. “I feel like we both won, honestly.”
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Scaroni crossed the finish line 10:52.57, shattering the previous Paralympic record of 11:47.37, which McFadden set at the 2016 Rio Games. She was just one second from breaking Schaer’s world record in the event (10:51.17).
The result marks Scaroni’s first ever Paralympic medal in her third Paralympic appearance. Her previous best finish (7th) came in the women’s marathon T54 at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
With the bronze, McFadden, 32, now owns 18 career Paralympic medals (17 in track & field, 1 in cross-country skiing).
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Both McFadden and Scaroni both have more racing left in Tokyo. McFadden is entered in four more events (400m, 800m, 1500m, marathon), while Scaroni has three events remaining (800m, 1500m, marathon).
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How to watch the Tokyo Paralympics
NBC will provide over 1,200 hours of Paralympic coverage. Here are some highlights: