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Justin Zook '08 Sets World Record and Captures a Gold Medal at the Paralympic Games in Beijing

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – September 15, 2008 – Springfield College graduate Justin Zook '08, a native of Plymouth, Minn., recently set a world record and won a gold medal in the 100 meter backstroke while competing at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

Zook competed in five swimming events, medaling in his specialty, at the Paralympic Games, which began on September 6 and continue through September 17. The swimming events concluded on September 15. The venue, The National Aquatics Center, better known as the Cube, was the same for the Olympic Games.

For Zook, this medal was his third in Paralympic Games. He had won two medals in Athens in 2004, where he also earned a gold in the 100 meter backstroke and a bronze in the 50 meter freestyle.

Justin Zook This time around, he finished first in the 100 back, fourth in the 50 free, eighth in the 100 free, and, along with three teammates, seventh in the 4x100 medley relay. On September 8, Justin finished tied for fourth in his heat in the 100 meter butterfly. But his time of 1:01.73 did not allow him to advance.

On September 9, Justin finished second in his heat in the 100 free with a time of 55.35 seconds. That evening, he placed eighth in the finals with a time of 55.68 seconds. Andre Brasil of Brazil set a world record in the finals with a time of 51.38 seconds.

On September 13, his highlighted day, Zook established a world record time of 1:01.15 in his heat of the 100 meter backstroke, finishing first. That evening, he nearly matched it with a time of 1:01.29 while capturing the gold medal. In his splits that evening, he went out in 29.26, and came home in 32.03. Finishing second was Michael Anderson of Australia, who finished with a time of 1:01.47.

On September 14, Justin began the day by finishing third in his heat in the 50 free with a time of 24.92 seconds. That night, he placed fourth, just missing a medal by 16/100ths of a second, finishing with an improved time of 24.81 seconds. Brasil again won the gold with a world record time of 23.61 seconds.

Finally, earlier today, Zook competed in the 4x100 medley relay, along with teammates Jarrett Perry, Cody Bureau, and Lantz Lamback. That quartet finished seventh with a time of 4:29.38. That was 17.48 seconds behind gold-medal winning Australia (4:11.90). Zook led off that relay with a time of 1:01.33 in the backstroke.

Justin Zook Zook, who was born prematurely with a clubbed foot and a leg which did not grow, forcing him to have as many as 30 surgeries during his lifetime, graduated from Springfield College last May following just 3 years of studies. He majored in sport management, and has aspirations of becoming an athletic director on the collegiate level. Justin set multiple American records at the U.S. Paralympic Trials in Minneapolis last April. Photo credit: Xinhua
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