Asiya slowest on water, former DR Congo man fastest on land

Asiya Mohammed

Kenyan para rower Asiya Mohammed during her training session on August 25, 2021 at the Tokyo Sea Forest Waterway.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Kenyan rower leaves Tokyo with head held up high, a lesson on hope, resilience and determination despite adversity 

In Tokyo

Kenya’s Asiya Sururu Mohamed finished 12th on the log in rowing on a day of action that was highlighted by a former DR Congo refugee athlete running the fastest 100 metres in Paralympic Games action.

Asiya was at Tokyo’s Sea Forest waterway for the final classification event in the three-day competition that saw Norwegian Brigit Lovise Roekkum Skarstein stroke her way to gold with a time of 10 minutes, 56.88 seconds.

Silver went to Moran Samuel of Israel (11:18.39) with Frenchwoman Nathalie Benoit clocking 11:28.44 for bronze.

Asiya finished 12th in 14:27.48 but will leave the Paralympic Games having motivated millions of physically challenged people throughout the world by offering a lesson on hope, resilience, determination and positive attitude.

Having lost her legs and part of her left hand in a train accident while just two years old, Asiya has withstood hardship, including the death of his parents, to find hope and solace in sport.

“I will now concentrate on rowing because I see the margin between me and the top rowers is minimal, and if I concentrate on specialized training, I will certainly improve my global rankings,” Asiya, who departs Tokyo for home tomorrow, said.

“I also need to get a customized boat that will help me perform to the levels of the other athletes.”

On the track at the National Stadium, Salum Ageze Kashafali, representing Norway, ran the fastest 100 metres in Paralympic Games history to complete his extraordinary journey from civil war refugee to champion.

The sprinter, who fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo with his family as a child to find safe haven in Norway, clocked 10.43 seconds to win the T12 title Sunday.

According to Paralympics classification, athletes in the T12 category “will generally have some residual sight, the ability to recognise the shape of a hand at a distance of two metres and the ability to perceive clearly will be no more than 2/60. 

Kashafali’s time beat the mark of 10.46 “seconds set at London 2012 by T13 legend Jason Smyth of Ireland, who had earlier won a fourth straight 100m gold in his category.

“I don’t know what to say, man (begins to cry). I came from nothing. I came from begging on the streets,” Kashafali said. 

“I believed. I moved to Norway as a refugee. I have been through so much, from bullets to hunger, and to be here as one of the best means a lot to me.

“It is worth it. To come from zero to something - that is how to put it. Everything is possible. I’m very happy to be one of the fastest Paralympians ever."

Kashafali was just 0.01 seconds off the world record of 10.42 for a para athlete set by Petrucio Ferreira Dos Santos of Brazil at the 2019 World Championships

“The goal was to win a medal," added the 27-year-old. 

"I know I am quick, but I didn’t expect to run that fast. That was just a bonus. It is about pushing the boundary to compete.”

Smyth may have seen his overall Paralympic Games record broken but the Irish sprinter showed why he is called “The Goldsmyth” as he extended his winning streak from Beijing 2008.

“I’m trying to live up to the nickname,” Smyth, who has six golds in all, said.  “What it takes to win medals gets harder and harder. And I’m getting older and older.”

Manuela Schaer of Switzerland set a Paralympic record to dethrone American Tatyana McFadden in the women’s 800m T54.

The silver lining for McFadden was taking her Paralympic medal tally to 19, including across country skiing silver from Sochi 2014. 

China finished the night, in which a clutch of world records were broken, with three golds.

They top the table so far with 11 golds.

The USA won two golds, and there were also golds for Ecuador, Australia, Spain, Poland, Thailand and Japan. 

PR Single Sculls Rowing (over 2,000 metres) final classification:

1.    Brigit Lovise Roekkum Skarstein, Norway (10 minutes, 56.88 second – Gold)
2.    Moran Samuel, Israel (11:18.39 – Silver)
3.    Nathalie Benoit, France (11:28.44 – Bronze)
4.    Anna Sheremet, Ukraine (1:48.10)
5.    Sylvia Pille-Steppat, Germany (12:02.47)
6.    Claudio Cicero Sabino, Brazil (12:57.80)
7.    Sejeong Kim, Korea (12:18.83)
8.    Brenda Sardon, Argentina (13:14.45)
9.    Liudmila Vauchok, Belarus (13:31.36)
10.    Hallie Smith, USA (13:55.87)
11.    Tomomi Ichikawa, Japan (14:14.59)
12.    Asiya Sururu Mohamed, Kenya (14:27.48).

With additional reporting from the organisers