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Team USA's Daniel Romanchuk took bronze in the men's marathon Saturday at the Tokyo Paralympics. (Mark Reis/Mark Reis)
Team USA's Daniel Romanchuk took bronze in the men's marathon Saturday at the Tokyo Paralympics. (Mark Reis/USOPC)

Romanchuk takes bronze in Paralympics marathon

Daniel Romanchuk, who trains at the University of Illinois, earned his second medal of the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on the final day of competition, taking bronze in the men’s marathon T54 in 1:29.05. Earlier in the track and field competition, Romanchuk took gold in his 400m race for his first career Paralympic medal. Romanchuk becomes the first American man to medal in a wheelchair classification in the marathon since Patrick Cottini in 1996.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be here and represent the U.S. and thankful for everyone who helped me get to where I am. It’s been an interesting two years and I’m very happy with everything,” Romanchuk said. “The T54 category is so competitive. You could run a race five times and get three or four different finishes. My strategy was kind of similar to what I was thinking a couple of years ago in Boston, just that the first part of the course is downhill and the second part is uphill. I was just trying to stay calm until those uphills and then capitalize on my strengths.”

In a race that saw wet and rainy conditions throughout, Switzerland’s Marcel Hug and China’s Yong Zhang pulled away from the main pack early. Romanchuk battled for most of the marathon with a group of racers that included American teammate and fellow Illini Aaron Pike, who ended up finishing the race in sixth place in 1:29.45. It was only after the 40-kilometer mark that Romanchuk made his move, pulling ahead of the pack and eventually beating out fourth-place finisher Brent Lakatos of Canada by 13 seconds. The final American in the men’s race, Illini Brian Siemann took 15th place with a time of 1:44.42.

On the women’s side, Tokyo medalists and Illini teammates Tatyana McFadden and Susannah Scaroni led the way for Team USA in fifth and sixth place, respectively. McFadden and Scaroni have both had a successful Games, sharing the podium twice in the women’s 800m and 5000 meter races. McFadden was also part of the 4x100 mixed relay team that took gold in world record fashion on Friday night, bringing her all-time medal total to 20.

Illini Jenna Fesemyer took 11th in her Paralympic debut, finishing in 1:50.06, while Illini teammate Amanda McGrory finished with a 15th-place result in 1:57.11. The marathon concludes McGrory’s fourth Paralympic Games, in which she has collected seven career medals, and Fesemyer’s Paralympic debut.

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