Over half of the women’s Paralymic T54 5,000 meters remained on Friday, but that didn’t stop Susannah Scaroni from surging to a 30-meter lead on the fifth lap of the race.
The 30-year-old hadn’t finished higher than seventh in any events in her first two Paralympics, but the University of Illinois graduate student didn’t look back, stretching that lead to eight seconds and nearly setting a new world record as she won the gold medal in the first T54 final of the Games.
Scaroni, who also took bronze in the 800 meters, is one of four athletes who train at the UI to take a spot on the medal stand.
While Scaroni left no doubt as to her dominant win, it wasn’t clear what color medal Daniel Romanchuk would take home when he finished the T54 400 meters.
Down the home stretch, the 23-year-old sat several meters behind Thailand’s Athiwat Paeng-Nuea, but over the final 20 meters of the race, he put on a surge to win the race and his first Paralympic medal by one-hundredth of a second.
With four events remaining heading into the men’s T54 1,500 final on Monday night and the women’s 1,500 early Tuesday morning, four UI athletes had won seven medals.
The United States men’s basketball team, which includes former Illinois players Steve Serio, Ryan Neiswender and Brian Bell, play in the quarterfinals against Turkey at 10:30 p.m. today.
A look at University of Illinois medalists at the Paralympics through Monday
Susannah Scaroni — Gold, T54 5,000 meters; Bronze, T54 800
Daniel Romanchuk — Gold, T54 400
Tatyana McFadden — Silver, T54 800; Bronze, T54 5,000
Raymond Martin — Silver, T52 1,500; T52 400