The oldest athlete in the Brazilian delegation that disputes the Paralympic Games in Tokyo — and also older than any athlete who has been to the Olympics —, Beth Gomes won, this Monday (30), the first gold medal of her career in that event. At 56, the veteran is the new Paralympic champion of discus throwing in the class F53, even though it is itself classified as being F52, for athletes with more acute disabilities.
Beth has multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, which from time to time reappears in the form of an outbreak. Throughout his life, he suffered several blows, needing to overcome each one of them. No wonder it is known by the nickname Phoenix. Formerly an F54 athlete, she was reclassified in 2018 after another one of these bouts, which paralyzed the entire left side of her body.
In the new class, she was already shining. In 2019, she became world record champion in Dubai and parapan-American in Lima. So much so that he arrived in Tokyo with widespread favoritism for gold, which is now his first medal in the Paralympic Games.
After watching eight athletes perform, when all the other races of the day at Tokyo National Stadium had already ended, Beth got ready to compete and, right in the first throw, 15.68m, secured the gold medal. Until then, the lead was Ukrainian Iana Lebiedieva, with 15.48m.
With the gold secured, Beth continued to evolve. She was 16.35m in the second throw, 17.33m in the fifth and finally 17.62m in the sixth and last, setting a new world record, which was already hers. The Paralympic record, on the other hand, was surpassed with enormous ease: it was 13.39m. In addition, the Brazilian’s marks in the F52 are better than the records in the F53 class.
The podium also had a double of Ukraine. The silver medal went to Iana Lebiedieva, who launched with 15.48m, and the bronze medal went to Zoia Ovsii, with 14.37m. Beth, who was a basketball player in a wheelchair (played in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008) and until her 2018 reclassification successfully competed in shot put (she won bronze at the 2015 Worlds), is registered to participate only in the puck in Tokyo.
Beth’s medal, the last of Brazil’s day in Tokyo, is the country’s 12th gold medal in the Paralympics. With that, Brazil continues fighting for fifth place. For the time being, he is sixth, with the same 12 gold medals from Ukraine, but behind in the number of silver (27 to eight). Australia (11 gold), Italy (10) and the Netherlands (10) are also in the fray.
The frustration of the day for the country, however, was not winning the dreamed of 100th gold medal in the history of Brazilian participation in the Paralympic Games. Beth’s was the 99th and the hundredth tends to come tomorrow.