McGrath relishes 'special' Para gold

Curtis McGrath shows off his gold medal from the VL3 200m canoe sprint race at the Paralympic Games.
Curtis McGrath shows off his gold medal from the VL3 200m canoe sprint race at the Paralympic Games.

Unstoppable sprint paddler Curtis McGrath says his third Paralympic gold medal is extra special after winning the debut event in Tokyo.

McGrath stormed home in the VL3 200m on Saturday, which is raced in a va'a - an outrigger canoe with a single-blade paddle.

It was McGrath's second medal in Tokyo after also winning the men's kayak single 200m KL2 final, successfully defending his title from Rio.

The 33-year-old again got off to a slow start on the Sea Forest Waterway course, but stormed home in the back end of the 200m to finish 1.611 seconds clear of Brazilian Giovane Vieira de Paula.

Great Britain's Stuart Wood, who set a Paralympic best time in the heat, collected bronze.

While he went into the VL3 final the favourite as world champion, McGrath said its addition to the Paralympic schedule kept him on edge.

"I was so nervous coming down the run," the 33-year-old Queenslander told Channel Seven.

A former soldier, McGrath, who lost his legs after stepping on a landmine on service in Afghanistan, said the third medal was one to treasure.

"Being a debut event, wanting to put my foot down on the sport and maintain my undefeated status in the event was something that meant a lot to me, and I'm very happy to achieve that," he said.

"The initial goal was to come here and stand on top of the podium twice ... I'm very happy with the double gold.

"This last one here is really special."

McGrath said it had been difficult to deal with the Tokyo games being pushed back a year but his motivation to secure two more gold medals had kept him on track.

He plans to go around again in Paris in 2024 but first, will have next year off, also noting he needed to rest up to allow an elbow issue to heal.

"It's not far away, really. Looking forward to it - I really want to compete there. I think my ambitions will be slightly changed," McGrath told reporters.

"I'm definitely going to have a year off next year, I'm a little bit tired and sore, I need my body to recover.

"Five years hammering the same block of steel is pretty hard so I'm keen for a break and some time out

"But at the same time, I love competing, I love representing Australia and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to do it again, if I qualify."

Meanwhile, Susan Seipel finished seventh in the women's kayak single 200m KL2 final.

Australian Associated Press