Frederiksen in tears after backstroke gold completes comeback from years of pain
21:01 GMT, 4 September 2012
Heather Frederiksen has taken everything life has thrown at her and stared straight back so she was not going to allow her opponents get the better of her as she successfully defended her title in the S8 100 metres backstroke.
The 26-year-old was involved in a life-changing accident, was handed a drug ban after testing positive in 2009 and then over the last 12 months was hospitalised following the diagnosis of neuralgic migraines.
Her poor health severely curtailed Frederiksen's training but she is full of heart and no little skill and a gutsy victory saw her bow her head and burst into quiet tears.
Struck gold: Heather Frederiksen on the podium with her medal for the women's 100m backstroke – S8
Frederiksen's win was the pinnacle for Britain at the Aquatics Centre with Stephanie Millward taking silver in the S9 400m freestyle and bronzes for Ellie Simmonds in the S6 50m freestyle, Oliver Hynd in the S8 100m backstroke and Matt Walker in the S7 50m freestyle taking their total to 25 so far.
Frederiksen can fully appreciate the magnitude of her achievement with Beijing's title paling in comparison.
She said: 'This is absolutely unreal. Beijing was fantastic but this means so much more.
'Winning there was fantastic and in my first Paralympic Games and I did absolutely unbelievably well there but to be able to come here and do it in front of my home crowd and for them to be willing me along was fantastic.'
Between Beijing and now, the City of Salford swimmer was given a backdated six-month drug ban after the concentration of salbutamol, which she had permission to take for an asthma condition, was ruled too high to be medically justified.
However, she said: 'I can come into these Games with an absolute clear conscience.
'At the end of the day that doping ban was for my salbutamol inhaler and it was something I had to do.
'I am sorry but I ask the question – if your life was at risk from an asthma attack what would you do'
was she willing to talk about her accident, saying: 'To me that
accident was very, very raw and I would appreciate if I didn't have to
talk about that.'
Let it all out: Frederiksen was overcome with emotion after winning gold in the Aquatics Centre
Instead, this was all positive especially after the ill health which threatened to scupper her.
Jessica Long of the United States looked as though she might be eating into her lead but Frederiksen was not to be beaten, touching in one minute 17.00 seconds.
She said: 'I had a funny feeling the
girls were catching me down the last 25m because the crowd was getting
louder and louder so I just had to keep pushing and pushing and to get
to that wall.
'When I was in hospital the main thing I was concentrating on was getting right, getting better.
last six weeks I have really homed in on it, I've done what I can do in
training and that is the best I can do up to now and I am really
pleased with that.'
tears replicated those she wept after taking silver in the 400m
freestyle and she said: 'I don't think I have cried as much in my life
as I've done this week.'
Millward too has faced adversity.
Once a non-disabled swimmer the now 30-year-old was diagnosed with
multiple sclerosis. But she set a new European record of 4:40.01 in the
S9 400m freestyle for her third medal in London.
She was almost 10 seconds adrift of
Natalie du Toit, who claimed her third successive title in this event,
and said: 'Natalie du Toit came up to me and said 'well done Stephanie'
and she never does that so that was fantastic
'I used her as my pacing, I knew she was going to go very fast. I used her as a positive rather than a negative.
'She's a lovely, lovely person. You
want to hate her because she wins so many medals but you can't because
she's just so very nice.'
Catch me if you can: Frederiksen successfully defended the title she won in Beijing
Walker claimed his first medal of the Games when he won bronze in the S7 50m freestyle and on the rostrum held aloft a photograph of his recently-deceased father.
It is the fourth successive Games in which Walker has claimed a medal in that event although up to now he has always finished with silver.
The 34-year-old led for much of the race before being overhauled in the final 15m to finish in 28.47secs.
Jonathan Fox and Josef Craig were sixth and seventh respectively.
Hynd claimed his second medal of the Games when he added the S8 100m backstroke bronze in 1:08.35 to his 400m silver.
Thomas Young was fourth and Sean Fraser fifth.
James Crisp was eighth in the S9 400m freestyle with James Clegg the same in the S12 100m freestyle.
Hannah Russell finished sixth in the S12 100m freestyle while Susie Rodgers was fourth for the second time in London, this time in the S7 50m freestyle.