Rio Paralympics: Zulfiya Gabidullina Sets A New Freestyle Swimming World Record
Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Gabidullina has provided one of the stories of the 2016 Paralympics by setting a new world record in the S3 100m freestyle swimming. But what makes her achievement really stand out is the fact that she has achieved the feat at the age of 50.
After taking nearly a second off the previous record in the S3 class, with a blistering time of 1.30.07, Gabidullina became Kazakhstan’s first ever Paralympic medal winner and, without a doubt, a national hero.
The S3 classification is for athletes with amputations, no use of their legs or severe coordination difficulties.
When you consider the fastest ever time in the event is 52.06s, held by double Olympic gold medalist Cate Campbell of Australia, her achievements are all the more impressive.
A former World Championship bronze medallist, Gabidullina is hoping her amazing achievement will inspire the people of Kazakhstan to compete at future games.
When asked for the secret to her success, she simply said, “determination and great skill”.
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated Gabidullina, stating that, “Having won the first gold medal at the Paralympic Games in the history of our country, you have brought great joy to all people of Kazakhstan. The world knows you as a strong athlete from Kazakhstan. Your victory is the result of years of hard work”.
The swimmer only took up the sport in her 30s, following a stint as a wheelchair racer.
Astonishingly, the Kazakh swimmer is not the oldest participant at the games, with 73-year-old Australian Libby Kosmala going for her tenth gold medal in Rio.
Kazakhstan can now see their name on the Paralympic medal table, with China storming clear thanks to a total of 148 medals, including 63 gold. Great Britain are currently second, having already matched their London 2012 total of 34 gold, with 75 medals overall.