Games glory for teen star
THE nation has a new bronzed Aussie after Bundaberg teenager Rheed McCracken defied age and inexperience to finish third in the men's 200m T34 track event at the London Paralympics.
McCracken was the youngest in the race by 11 years, but it mattered little to the 15-year-old speedster as he powered home behind Tunisia's Walid Ktila, who finished in 27.98 seconds to claim gold and the world record yesterday.
McCracken crossed in 28.89 seconds, a new Oceania record, with United Arab Emirates athlete Mohamed Hammadi claiming the silver.
McCracken's father, Brad, was among the 80,000 spectators at the London stadium and was overcome with emotion when his son crossed the line.
"Pure elation is the best way to describe it really," the proud dad told the NewsMail.
"What has just happened is unreal. We have always had faith and what he has done really just blows us away."
McCracken qualified second fastest for the final, but was still surprised to finish among the medals.
"After the ceremony we got five minutes with him," his dad said. "It's a dream come true because going to the Paralympics is all about getting a medal.
"The medal was much heavier than I thought it would be."
Brad said he spent the day at the stadium taking in the preliminary rounds, and the conditions changed dramatically during the day.
He said pre-race nerves may have affected his son's performance in the final.
"In the morning it suited him more; it was hot and sticky, which made the track a bit faster," he said.
"Nerves may have got the better of him, but it is still an unreal performance."
Having exceeded expectations in the 200m, McCracken will now turn his focus to his pet 100m event.
"Rheed pulled up really well and he has got rid of the nerves," Brad said. "You can tell how pumped he is."
McCracken will return to the track for the heats of the men's 100m T34 from 8.05pm on Saturday (AEST). The final is scheduled to be held Sunday at 6am.