Bronze felt like gold for Jordanne Whiley after becoming the first British wheelchair tennis player to win a women’s singles medal at a Paralympic Games.
Whiley already holds two bronze medals alongside Lucy Shuker but now has an individual honour to go alongside doubles success, in her first Games since giving birth to son Jackson.
The 29-year-old has already confirmed that Tokyo 2020 will be her last Paralympics and has made sure she will go out in style with an intense 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 win over the Netherlands’ Aniek van Koot.
The tears immediately started flowing for Whiley as the final point was won, revelling in her new slice of ParalympicsGB history.
“I just said to myself at the end, ‘I did it.’ Obviously it’s not gold, but for me, this feels like gold,” she said.
“I’ve never done this before and given everything that’s happened in the last two years, came back, had a baby and struggled with getting back to fitness.
“Before I had Jackson, I was injured 24/7 and to get my body in a state where it can compete at the top level, I’m really proud of myself.
“She gave me everything today, both of us left everything out on the court. We were very neck-and-neck, that match could have gone either way. I just kept fighting.
“I was using my reserve tank, everything emotionally. I’ve never been on a singles podium and that was a really nerve-wracking experience. It’s such an amazing achievement for me personally.
“This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”
But Whiley is far from done there, joining forces with Shuker to face Van Koot and Diede de Groot in Saturday’s gold-medal match.
The two are already guaranteed silver – their best Paralympic result as a pair – but the prospect of gold remains a tantalising one for Whiley.
“Just one more match and I’m going to give it absolutely everything again,” she added.
“She [Van Koot] is going to come at us all guns blazing, I expect. They’re an amazing team, they’re number one in the world for a reason.
“We’ve played them many times, so we know what to expect. We’ve just got to be on our A game.”
A dejected Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett missed out on gold but have another men’s doubles Paralympic silver to celebrate.
The British duo were top seeds in Tokyo but missed out 7-5, 0-6, 7-6(3) to Stéphane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer in a repeat of the Rio 2016 Paralympic final.
Reid and Hewett were up against it following the first set. But they stormed back, winning nine games in a row to hold the advantage in the decider before their French opponents recovered to win gold.
Reid said: “We’re devastated right now; we came here with one job to do and that was to win the gold.
“We both believed we were going to do it, we came in with brilliant form and tried so hard to change it from five years ago.
“It’s going to take a while for it to sink in, I’m just proud of the way we fought to the end. We backed each other up the whole way through the match. We win together, we lose together.”
The two aren’t done yet with one of them guaranteed to leave Tokyo with a Paralympic medal when they face off in Saturday’s men’s singles bronze-medal match.
Hewett added: “It’s a tough one to take. It’s so fresh right now – we couldn’t have asked for better form coming into this event, and some of the matches we’ve played this week have been close to our best tennis.
“I haven’t really thought about the singles yet. The emotion of that match was overwhelming, I think we both feel pretty deflated and flat and rightly so.
“It’ll be tough to pick ourselves up but there is a bronze medal on the line, there’s a lot still at stake.”