Kai-Jürgen Pönisch provided a home victory for Germany in the M02 1,500m open water swimming ©Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023

The first medals were awarded in open water swimming, powerlifting and athletics at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin today.

Hosts Germany enjoyed success with two golds on the Regatta Course Grünau in open water swimming, in which races were held over 1,500 metres.

Patrizia Spaulding was victorious in the F02 division in 34min 34.7sec, beating Puerto Rico's Stephanie Barrera Acosta in second by nearly one minute, and Kai-Jürgen Pönisch triumphed in the M02 in 28:34.2, beating closest challenger Justas Truskauskas of Lithuania by about 20 seconds.

Trent Bethel provided a victory for Trinidad and Tobago in the M01 with a fine 20:25.7 effort, and South Africa's Cornelia Fowler won the F01 race in 29:25.2.

The unified sports race was won by Mexico's Pablo Escalona and Oscar Inowe Perez in 25:18.2, with Germany taking a silver through Leo Heckel and Adrian Schlüter in 25:33.5.

In athletics, the men's and women's 5,000m were the first medal events at the Hanns-Braun-Stadion.

In the level A races, Paraguay's Monica Prieto won the women's plus final in 21:40.13, Kamogelo Moncho of South Africa the men's plus gold in 15:58.82 and Ireland's Timothy Morahan the M2 title in 17:35.66.

Switzerland's Patrick Schweiger won the M2 event at level B in 23:19.26 by around three seconds ahead of Italy's Alessandro Henry, and Israel's Saar Buchbinder took men's plus gold in 19:14.84.

Paraguay's Monica Prieto, centre, was among the first athletics gold medallists in the 5,000m ©Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023
Paraguay's Monica Prieto, centre, was among the first athletics gold medallists in the 5,000m ©Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023

Standing long jump gold medals were also shared between nations.

Christian Gerro with 2.53 metres won the M01 plus event and Turkey's Ayse Basaran the F01 plus in 1.84m at level A, while Venezuela's Denise Sebastiani was the F02 winner with 1.02m.

At level B, Kazakhstan's Nikolay Sukhomkin triumphed in the M01 plus division in 1.69m, North Macedonia's Agron Hajredini won M02 gold in 1.6m, and there was an Iranian double in the women's events as Fatemeh Haji Dayari earned victory in the F01 plus with 1.06m and Farzaneh Jamshidnejad in the F02 with 0.65m.

Powerlifting golds were also won today at Messe Berlin.

Lithuania's Laurynas Saulis was among the star performers with all four possible golds in the men's M03 bench press, deadlift, squat and combined, a feat matched by Greece's Dimitrios-Kyriakos Andriopoulos in the M04 and China's Qiang Min in the M05.

Eight different countries won level two rhythmic gymnastics golds at Messe, including San Marino through Marianna Pruccoli in the L2.2.2.3.

Medals are set to be available in eight sports tomorrow, with further honours available in athletics, powerlifting and rhythmic gymnastics in addition to swimming, equestrian, cycling, roller skating and bowling.