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Teenager Craig lands shock gold

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6th September 2012

Josef Craig sprang one of the shocks of London 2012 to land S7 400m Freestyle gold on his Paralympic debut.

The 15-year old came into the Games ranked fourth in the world but after knocking eight seconds off his personal best to break the world record in the heats, he sliced another three seconds off to claim the title in 4:42.81.

I'm quite shocked by this - I might need a bit of therapy.

It was a fearless performance from the teenager as he dominated a race featuring the defending silver medallist as well as the reigning world and European champions.

After keeping up with China's early leader Pan Shiyun, Craig stormed clear from the middle lane to touch more than three seconds clear with Pan ultimately taking silver in 4:46.22.

And the Brit admitted Paralympic gold was more than he could have hoped for at his first major international.

“It just goes to show surprising things can happen when you relax,” said Craig.

“I thought this is the last 400m of the Games so I just thought why not go for it like I’ve never gone for anything before.

"I turned round and saw world record again and thought, 'this is a surprise'. I'm quite shocked by this - I might need a bit of therapy.

“I knew if I did everything I could, I would be happy whatever happened in the final but I’ve got a gold so I guess I don’t have to worry about being upset about my race.”

European champion Jonathan Fox improved on his heat time but was denied a second medal of London 2012 by 1.27 seconds as he came home fourth in 4:48.03.

I gave it my best shot and unfortunately it wasn’t good enough on the day.

Fox, who lifted S7 100m Backstroke gold on the opening day in London, had been world record holder before the start of the Games but insisted he would be the first to congratulate his young teammate.

“I’m pretty gutted with that,” said Fox. “I went a second faster than I did in the heat but hats off to Josef because he did get another world record.

“Now I’m the one to chase him, not the other way around.

“But I got a gold at the beginning of the week. I came here for the backstroke and possibly the 400 – I gave it my best shot and unfortunately it wasn’t good enough on the day.”

Stephanie Millward and Louise Watkin won silver and bronze respectively in a thrilling SM9 200m Individual Medley final.

That’s another two seconds off my PB from before the Games which is fantastic.

Millward turned first at the half-way stage before South Africa’s defending champion Natalie Du Toit re-took control on the breaststroke leg with SB8 100m Breaststroke champion Claire Cashmore pushing her way into second at the final turn.

And while Du Toit took gold in 2:34.22, Millward was able to overhaul her teammate on the freestyle leg to set a personal best 2:36.21 for her third silver of the Games.

A desperate race for bronze ensued and Watkin, who was seventh at the final turn, ultimately prevailed, out-touching Cashmore by just 0.29 seconds to finish in 2:37.79 for her third medal of London 2012.

“That’s another two seconds off my PB from before the Games which is fantastic,” said Millward.

“I really enjoyed that race – I enjoyed keeping up with Natalie really closely. It was our last race together and she gave me a huge hug at the end which was nice.

“I didn’t have a great 50m Fly at the beginning but I picked myself up well on my backstroke which is my favourite stroke.”

Heather Frederiksen won her third medal of London 2012 with silver in a dramatic S8 100m Freestyle final.

It's a complete adrenalin rush while you're here - every single moment of it.

While USA's Jessica Long stormed ahead to set a world record 1:05.63, the Brit won the enthralling battle for silver as she held of Australia's Maddison Elliott (1:08.37) and USA's Mallory Weggemann (1:08.51) to take the touch in 1:08.07.

I'm so, so pleased with what I've done here," said Frederiksen, who has also won S8 100m Backstroke gold and S8 400m Freestyle silver in London.

"I knew it wasn't going to be easy coming in to this competition with the lack of training I've had through illness.

"But I've given it a good go and I'm really pleased with it.

"It's a complete adrenalin rush while you're here - every single moment of it. I can't thank the crowd enough for their support."

Susie Rodgers completed a hat-trick of bronzes on her Paralympic debut with a gutsy performance in the S7 400m Freestyle.

I wanted to go sub 5:20 and get a new European record that way so to finish on that high is amazing.

The 29-year old, who has also lifted bronze in the S7 100m Freestyle and 34pt 4x100m Free Relay, beat her European record for the second time in two races as she came home in 5:18.93.

It was so nearly silver for Rodgers as USA’s Courtney Jordan won a frantic sprint for the wall in 5:18.55, but the Brit insisted she was over the moon to have landed another medal in her fifth and final individual event of the Games.

“That was brilliant – it was a fantastic race,” said Rodgers.

“I was definitely helped by Courtney – I was pacing off her! I wanted to go sub 5:20 and get a new European record that way so to finish on that high is amazing.

“At the start of the meet I was very nervous, stressed and tense so I’ve tried to relax and enjoy it more. I really wanted a medal tonight and that time is brilliant.”

Andrew Mullen nearly became the second British 15-year old to reach the podium on day eight as he finished fourth in the S5 50m Backstroke.

Having clocked a British record 39.69 to qualify in fourth, the Brit came storming back in the second 25m but couldn't quite haul in Hungary's bronze medallist Zsolt Vereczkeii (38.92) as he touched in 39.54.

James Crisp was less than a second off his second medal of the Games as he finished fifth in the SM9 200m Individual Medley.

The 12-time Paralympic medallist had qualified third fastest but fell agonisingly short in the final, improving on his heat swim but touching in 2:21.10 as Italy's Federico Morlacchi took bronze in 2:20.28.

Thomas Young and Sean Fraser both set personal bests to finish sixth and seventh respectively in the S8 100m Freestyle final.

Competing in his sixth and final individual event of his debut Games, Young clocked a British record 1:00.53 while Fraser also ducked under his old British record (1:00.77) to touch in 1:00.58.

Aaron Moores and Daniel Pepper finished sixth and seventh in the SB14 100m Breaststroke final.

Moores lowered his personal best for the second time today as he touched in 1:10.46 while Pepper came home in 1:12.64 in his second final of his debut Games.

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