Paralympians cash in on government backing

·2-min read

Ellie Cole has made Australian Paralympics history, hours after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a major reward boost for the Tokyo team's medallists.

Cole swam the backstroke leg of the 4x100m medley team that won bronze on Thursday night, taking the six-time gold medallist to 17 career Paralympic medals.

Her silver and bronze medals in Tokyo helped make her Australia's most decorated female Paralympian, with one more medal than retired swimmer Priya Cooper, who won nine gold.

Rachael Watson, Will Martin and Ben Hance also had record-breaking performances to snare gold in the pool on Thursday.

At the main stadium, Vanessa Low broke her own world record as she won the T63 long jump.

But arguably the most significant news for the Paralympic team on Thursday happened nearly 8000km away in Canberra.

The prime minister announced the federal government would reward each Australian Paralympics medal in Tokyo with the same money that the Australian Olympic Committee provides for the Olympic team - $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.

Paralympics Australia hailed it as a landmark move towards equity in sport and wheelchair tennis great Dylan Alcott called it a win for people power.

"How cool is this news. It's because of all of you backing the Paralympic Games and making some noise to make this change happen," Alcott tweeted.

"We appreciate the support of the Australian public so much, and hope the last week has put some smiles on some faces back home!"

Thursday's four golds took the Australian team's overall tally to 17, with 23 silver and 25 bronze, and they remain eighth on the medal table.

But the most historic medal of the day was Cole's bronze in the relay with Kiera Stephens, Emily Beecroft and Isabella Vincent.

The four-time Paralympian will most likely retire now, with Thursday's relay the last event on her Tokyo program.

"I spent a very emotional afternoon and so I kept sitting at the warm-up pool crying," she told Channel Seven.

"I was 'pull yourself together, you have to do this for your country'.

"It just goes to show how much racing for your country, racing for your team in particular, can really put a firework up your ... you know ..."

Martin broke his own world record twice to take out the S9 100m butterfly event, his third Tokyo gold medal.

Hance set a Paralympic record in winning the S14 100m backstroke and Watson did the same in the S4 50m freestyle.

At the track, Low's world record capped a romantic Australian recruiting coup.

She won the same event in Rio, when competing for Germany.

Low switched nationalities and moved to Australia so she could see more of her husband Scott Reardon, who won gold in the T42 100m at Rio and finished fifth in the T63 100m final earlier this week.

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