SOUTH African Natalie du Toit ended her remarkable swimming career in defeat on the ninth day of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The 28-year-old won three gold medals at the Aquatics Centre, taking her tally to 13 across three Games, but signed off with silver in the women’s S9 100 metres freestyle final as Australia’s Ellie Cole won gold in on minute 02.77 seconds.
World record holder Du Toit, winner of the event in Athens and Beijing, finished 0.68secs behind in 1min 03.45secs to take a second silver medal of her Paralympic career.
“It is all over,” said a tearful Du Toit as she reflected on a 14-year career as an international swimmer.
“I gave everything in the pool, I gave everything as a person. I look back and I’m satisfied. It’s time to move on.
“I went out there, tried my best and to get a medal was something special.
“Ellie’s a great competitor and to out there and get second is a little bit disappointing, but it’s still a medal.”
Cole’s fellow Australian Matthew Cowdrey won his 13th Paralympic gold with victory in the corresponding men’s event.
The 23-year-old finished in 55.84.
Bradley Snyder won his second gold of London 2012, a year to the day after being blinded by an improvised explosive device while serving with the US Navy in Afghanistan.
“It is an emotional day, but it’s kind of a day of celebration,” said Snyder after winning S11 400m freestyle gold in 4:32.41.
Brazil’s Daniel Dias was also among the winners in the pool, taking a fifth gold of the Games with victory in the men’s S5 50m butterfly in a world record of 34.15.
Australia’s Jacqueline Freney held off a late charge from Britain’s Louise Watkin in the final leg of the women’s 4x100m medley 34 points relay final to claim her eighth gold of London 2012.
Cole won her second title of the evening, with Katherine Downie and Annabelle Williams completing the Australian team which clocked 4:53.95, 0.03secs ahead of the hosts.
Italy’s Alex Zanardi claimed his second Paralympic gold medal with victory in the men’s H4 road race at Brands Hatch.
The 45-year-old now has two wins at the Kent motor-racing circuit where he first raced as an F3000 driver 21 years ago before losing his legs in an accident in 2001.
Zanardi, who won time-trial gold on Wednesday, won the 64km race in a sprint finish ahead of South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk.
The corresponding women’s race was won by Andrea Eskau of Germany.
Marianna Davis of the United States won the women’s H1-3 road race, Ireland’s Mark Rohan won the men’s H1 event and the H3 race saw Rafal Wilk of Poland triumph.
Austria’s Walter Ablinger claimed victory in the men’s H2 road race.
China won two of the four table tennis titles on offer. They won the men’s team – class 3, event with a 3-2 defeat of Germany before retaining the women’s team – class 1-3 title by beating South Korea 3-0.
Slovakia beat France 3-0 to win gold in the men’s team class 1-2 table tennis tournament at ExCeL.
Poland won the other gold on offer with a 3-0 defeat of Spain in the men’s team – class 6-8 final.
The final of the mixed individual – BC3 boccia will be an all South Korea affair after semi-final wins for Choi Ye-jin and Jeong Ho-won.
Britain’s David Smith will go for gold against Thailand’s Pattaya Tadtong in the individual BC1 final after a 5-2 semi-final victory today against Norway’s Roger Aandalen.
World number two Yan Zhiqiang of China will look to go one better than the silver medal he won in the mixed team – BC1-2 event when he faces Brazil’s Maciel Sousa Santos in the BC2 final.
China and Brazil will also square off in the final of the individual – BC4 competition. Zheng Yuansen will meet Dirceu Jose Pinto.
The wheelchair rugby semi-finals will see the USA play Canada and Japan meet Australia.
Japan beat hosts Britain 51-39 and now tackle unbeaten Australia, who today defeated Belgium 58-43.
Tournament favourites the USA claimed a 70-44 win over France and next play Canada, who beat Sweden 53-52.
In seven-a-side football, Russia beat Brazil 3-1 to reach the final, where they will play Ukraine, who beat Iran 2-1.
The imperious Esther Vergeer won her fourth straight Paralympic gold and a 470th straight match as she topped fellow Dutchwoman Aniek van Koot, the world number two, 6-0 6-3, in the women’s singles final.
Vergeer was broken twice in the second set but responded in kind to keep her incredible streak alive.
She said: “Everybody expected me to win gold and that I would win but I still had to work hard, to go to training, to be at the top of my game. A lot of people forget that.”
Sweden’s Stefan Olsson and Peter Vikstrom won men’s doubles gold with a 6-1 6-2 defeat of France’s Frederic Catteneo and Nicolas Peifer.
China won the wheelchair fencing women’s team open event after seeing off Hungary 45-38 in the final at ExCeL.
Akiko Adachi scored the only goal as Japan claimed women’s goalball gold ahead of China at the Copper Box.
Finland were convincing 8-1 winners over Brazil as Petri Posio scored four and Jarno Mattila three.
Tatyana McFadden, the wheelchair racer abandoned by her parents as a child, roared to her third Paralympic gold medal at the Olympic Stadium.
The 23-year-old, who was adopted from a Russian orphanage by an American, claimed the 1500 metres title to add to her 400m and 800m crowns.
The American hit the accelerator with half a lap to go to hold off the challenge of Switzerland’s Edith Wolf and win in three minutes 36.42 seconds. Another United States racer, Shirley Reilly, took bronze.
Ireland’s Jason Smyth followed in the footsteps of Usain Bolt by completing a London 2012 sprint double, adding the 200m crown to his 100m title.
And he went a step further than the self-confessed Jamaican “living legend” by smashing the world record for the third time in four races, clocking 21.05secs – 0.90s ahead of second place and 0.38 quicker than his old world best mark.
Oscar Pistorius, with only one chance left to win an individual gold, coasted into the T44 400m final, winning his heat at a canter in 48.31.
Germany beat Australia 58-44 to win the women’s wheelchair basketball gold.
Mareike Adermann top scored with 19 points for Germany, who led by six after the third quarter before pulling away in the fourth.
Holland beat the United States 71-47 to claim bronze.
China won the women’s sitting volleyball with a 3-1 victory over the States in the final. Ukraine beat Holland to take bronze.-www.espnstar.com