Above: Anna Grimaldi claiming gold in the T47 Long Jump at the Rio Paralympics. Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty Images.
In an outstanding first day of Athletics for New Zealand at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Kiwi long jumper Anna Grimaldi launched the New Zealand team onto the medals table, winning gold in the women's T47 event.
In a dramatic contest between Cuban Yunidis Castillo and Australian Carlee Beattie, the 19 year old Grimaldi from Dunedin set four personal bests during the event, and jumped from third to first place with a massive final jump of 5.62m, 21 cm further than her best before the Games.
Castillo led from the beginning of the competition with a jump of 5.59m in the first round while Grimaldi jumped 5.34, 5.43, 5.43 5.45 on her first four attempts to sit in the silver medal position.
Beattie had a a big 5.57m jump in the fifth round to push Grimaldi back a spot, but the student from the Athletics Taieri club responded with a big jump, only to have it disallowed for overstepping the take-off board.
She then made her sixth and final attempt, hitting the board perfectly and stretching out to a magnificent 5.62m. Castillo could not respond on the final jump of the competition and the gold medal was Grimaldi's.
Grimaldi's coach Brent Ward was over the moon with the result.
"Anna had nothing to lose on her final attempt and it was a brilliant jump. Anna has being doing some really good training before she left. She's a very good competitor and extremely determined," said a delighted Ward.
Grimaldi, bronze medallist at the 2015 World IPC championships in Doha, couldn't believe the result after the event finished, saying to her supporters in the crowd "What just happened?
Grimaldi still has two events at the Games, the 100m and 200m.
Earlier on Day 1 of the athletics programme Liam Malone won his heat of the T44 100m to progress to the final as the second ranked competitor.
Finishing very strongly to pass three athletes over the last 40m, the former Nelson "blade runner" recorded a personal best 10.90, 0.27 better that he previous best, set just weeks ago.
Malone's 100m final will be at 11.00am on Saturday morning NZ time. He will also compete in the 200m and 400m later in the Games.