The Shab-solute best: Swimming sensation Shabalina smashes her own world record to win Paralympic Games gold for the first time
Merited Master of Sports of Russia Shabalina broke her record in stunning style, finishing in one minute and 3.59 seconds to beat Australian Paige Leonhardt by almost two seconds.
No stranger to setting ever-quicker times, Shabalina's decorated career has seen the Chelyabinsk-born great break a number of records since 2014, including in the S14 200 event.
Not for the first time, Shabalina rose to the occasion after seeing records fall earlier in the day.
🎉 Great news from #Tokyo: Valeria #Shabalina secures the first GOLD medal for the Russian Paralympic Committee team, set world record in #swimming - 100m #butterfly 🥇🇷🇺 Off to a great start! #GoRPC! #GoRussia! pic.twitter.com/UYPKQsRLQ7— Russia 🇷🇺 (@Russia) August 25, 2021
Hong Kong teenager Chan Yui-lam had set a new record in the first heat, finishing in just over one minute and seven seconds.
The 17-year-old beat that time again in the final, only to find it was not quite enough to eclipse the top three, led by Shabalina's latest feat.
Leonhardt's compatriot, Ruby Storm, finished third in one minute 6.50 seconds.
🚨 WORLD RECORD ALERT 🚨#RPC Valeriia Shabalina won the gold medal in the women's 100m butterfly - S14 final at the Tokyo 2020 paralympic in a world record time of 1:03.59sec.#AUS Paige Leonhardt won silver and #AUS Ruby Storm claimed bronze.#Paralympics#ParaSwimmingpic.twitter.com/LCm9h0VDU2— Shazad Anas (@ShazadAnas1) August 25, 2021
Victory earned Shabalina her 33rd gold at a major finals, adding to the ten she took at the INAS Global Games in 2019, triumphing in the same discipline and distances ranging up to 1,500m.
In the same year, the 100m butterfly title was one of three she stormed to at the World Para Swimming Championships in Glasgow.
Now 26, her first senior international honors were a hat-trick of gold medals at the World Para Swimming European Championships in 2014, followed by three gold and one bronze at the next edition two years later and 11 gold finishes at the 2018 INAS European Swimming Championships.
Elsewhere on a memorable day for the Russian Paralympic Committee, Anastasiia Gontar narrowly took gold in the women's 50m freestyle, Roman Zhadanov won the SB3 50m breaststroke final and Daria Pikalova claimed bronze in the women's S13 100m butterfly race.Also on rt.com ‘Was losing my legs worth it?’ Aussie Paralympian ex-soldier questions his Afghanistan sacrifice amid Taliban takeover