'Superb start' for GB Paralympians

Banbury Cake: Ellie Simmonds hopes to match her double gold medal haul from Beijing Ellie Simmonds hopes to match her double gold medal haul from Beijing

Organisers have hailed a "superb" start to the Paralympic Games after more world records tumbled and gold medals were won by Britain's athletes - in front of unprecedented TV audiences.

The team is well ahead of schedule in the quest for 103 medals at the Games, with 56 - including 17 golds - after four and a half days.

Dressage golden girl Natasha Baker bagged her second gold at Greenwich Park in the Grade II freestyle class with a Paralympic record score.

The win came 48 hours after she was crowned Grade II individual champion - also achieved with a Paralympic record - and it gave Britain's equestrian team a seventh medal of the Games.

ParalympicsGB chef de mission Craig Hunter hailed the "superb start", adding that his athletes are "slightly ahead of our Beijing total (at this point in 2008)".

Official broadcaster Channel 4 announced the highest ever TV Paralympics audience for Oscar Pistorius's controversial defeat in Sunday night's T44 200m final. A peak of 4.4 million tuned in to watch the 25-year-old South African, who later criticised the length of rival Alan Oliveira's running blades.

On Monday it emerged that Pistorius contacted Games organisers six weeks ago to raise concerns over the "unfair" advantage of those using longer prosthetics.

It is hoped the gold rush will continue later, as Ellie Simmonds takes to the pool for the SM6 200m individual medley at the Aquatics Centre. Monday morning's heat saw Simmonds, 17, who has dwarfism, qualify with a world record time.

Dressage champion Lee Pearson will also be looking to secure his place in British Paralympic sport's most exclusive club by winning gold at Greenwich Park.

The 38-year-old from Staffordshire contests the Grade Ib freestyle competition, knowing that victory will put him alongside Tanni Grey-Thompson and swimmer David Roberts on a British record 11 Paralympic golds.

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