Death and gold in a week
SAILOR Liesl Tesch ensured she gave her biggest supporter, her late mother Pam, a fitting tribute - winning a gold medal.
The former Aussie wheelchair basketball captain teamed up with Daniel Fitzgibbon to win the two-person Scud 18 class just days after her mother lost her battle with bone cancer back home in Australia.
The pair, despite only jumping in a boat together 18 months ago, left their rivals in their wake as they secured gold with a race to spare.
Tesch, who suffered incomplete paraplegia in a bike accident, works the sails while quadriplegic Fitzgibbon handles the rudder. Their boat is specially stabilised so it cannot capsize.
The success certainly came at the end of what had been a tough week for Tesch.
"Not many people get up on the morning of their gold medal race and start organising a memorial service for their mother, but what a beautiful way to celebrate my mum's life but to win gold on a beautiful sunny day at the Paralympic Games," she said. "I knew that mum wasn't well at all but I thought she'd make it through the week. It was a real shock to get the news after day one here.
"She was definitely out there with us. Today the sun was shining and the breeze was great. Mum was certainly looking down on us and pushing us along.
"I was able to channel all of that emotion this week and we won the gold medal for mum."
The gold medal was one of three Australia won on the day.
Swimmers Jacqueline Freney and Matthew Cowdrey won the others after another couple of astonishing performances in the pool.
Freney, 20, powered her way to winning the S7 400m freestyle, bagging her seventh gold in the process.
Her incredible achievement means the girl from Skennars Head has now surpassed fellow swimmer Siobhan Paton's record of six gold medals at the Sydney Games 12 years ago.
Cowdrey beccame the first Australian man to win the same event at three straight Games after winning the 200m medley. It is his 12th career gold medal.