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record breaking night for british team at the ipc athletics european championships

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16 June 2016


It was a record breaking evening for the British Athletics team in Grosseto who won three golds and five medals in total to improve the previous highest number of medal won at an IPC Athletics European Championships, recorded in Swansea two years ago, to 56 medals overall.

The women’s T35-38 4x100m relay team produced one of the finest performances of the championships on their way to gold, setting a world record of 51.63 to dip below the mark set by the Chinese earlier this year. The quartet of Olivia Breen (coach: Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo), Maria Lyle (Tabo Huntley), Georgie Hermitage (Paul McGregor) and Sophie Hahn (Joe McDonnell) made a series of confident handovers to take the relay title back off the Russians who won two years ago.

Four-time European gold medallist Hermitage set her third world record of the week in the race and said afterwards: “I enjoyed the bend but it may not have been the smoothest changeovers by me and Maria but we have a great relationship and it is something we can work on. We still broke a world record and you could see that there is so much to come. It has been great to have Kadeena (Cox) training with the team as well. Whatever happens, we are going to be formidable.”

Lyle, winning three gold medals this week added: “I’m really pleased that we got the baton around safely and got the world record. It has been a great week for me and I have to thank all my teammates and coaches who have taken care of us. Katie Jones (relay coach) has done a great job so thank you to her for taking the time to train us and get us prepared for these championships.”

David Weir (Jenny Archer) won his fourth gold of the championships in the T54 1500m in fine style after a late fight back from the Russian Aleksei Bychenok in 3:18.50, winning by just 0.03 seconds. However, it was a confident last 100m from the six-time Paralympic champion who used all his experience to hold off his opponents. After placing himself perfectly in the pack, he moved out with a lap to go before using his power to take a commanding lead and he never looked back.

Weir said afterwards: “It was quite slow for me but I was alright, I knew I had it covered. Heinz (Frei) broke early and I wasn’t expecting that. With 500m to go I didn’t know whether to go behind Aleksei (Bychenok) or go round. I made the decision to go around him in case he had nothing else in the tank. I had to go the long way round but it was a good race.”

Weir was also part of the winning British team in the non-medal T53/54 Men’s 4x400m relay with trio  Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks), Nathan Maguire (Steven Hoskins) and Mo Jomni (Archer) guiding the team to a 3:08.30, a British record.

On the win in the T53/54 4x400m relay, Weir added: “Like I said before, as long as I knew the team was good enough to be medal potential, I would train to help the team. I’ve been getting ready with the 400m and now me and Rich (Chiassaro) are the fastest two athletes in the world, it’s unbelievable. We have a good team – Nathan (Maguire) has shown his ability and Mo (Jomni) is from my academy so that is a very proud moment. I’ve never seen a team as strong as this before even back in the early nineties when we had a decent 4x100m team. It is so nice to do this one with a team. Athletics is an individual sport so it is good to be involved with these guys.

The multiple global medallist reflected on the week as a whole after claiming four gold medals: “It is a confidence booster for me. For a couple of years I have doubted whether I was still good enough. Mentally it takes a lot for me to get ready. I had to really get in the groove but this year I have felt as though I have enjoyed myself. I’m not sure if it is because it is Paralympic year. I knuckled down after Doha and worked hard over the winter. The weird thing is that even when I got here, I was still doubting myself, asking ‘am I still good enough?’ After a couple of races and beating Aleksei who is in the top three in the world, that gave me a lot of confidence.”

Isaac Towers (Peter Wyman) completed the full set of medals with a brilliant gold in the T34 800m final. After winning silver and bronze medals earlier in the programme, Towers showed experience beyond his years to outsprint the multiple global medallist Henry Manni of Finland. Taking on the Finn with 400m to go, the Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde athlete showed great strength to hold him off in a time of 1:44.67, a championship record.

Towers commented: “It was always going to be a close race between Henry (Manni), Ben (Rowlings) and myself so I’m really happy to get the gold medal. It was a bit challenging with the wind but I’m delighted to get the victory. It is good to know I can mix it with the best and is a very good marker as we go into the last few weeks before Rio.”

On what he has learned this week, Towers added: “The weather conditions have been mixed all week – we’ve had heat, wind and rain so it is has been good to work out some tactics for the different scenarios we are faced with.”

Compatriot Ben Rowlings (Job King) claimed his second bronze medal of the week in the same race, holding off the French athlete Sebastian Mobre to take another European honour with a time of 1:49.14.

Upgrading from the bronze in Swansea, Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) claimed silver in the T44 100m final but it was nearly a gold medal after a strong effort, however she crossed the line in 13.70 (-1.1). She pushed T44 world number one Irmgard Bensusan all the way and led until the 80m mark before the German showed her prowess.

Dylan Harris (Adrian Brown) ended his first senior European Championships with a personal best of 12.49 (-0.3) in the T38 100m. He finished fifth in the final but will leave the event with a wealth of knowledge collected from the experience.

Head Coach of the Paralympic programme Paula Dunn reflected on the championships by saying: “I am delighted with our record breaking results here at the IPC Athletics European Championships, with experienced athletes such as David Weir and Richard Whitehead performing like the champions we know they are, and a lot of young and upcoming athletes stepping up on the European stage. To win 56 medals, 23 of which are gold is a phenomenal achievement for the British team.

“This event has been a great stepping stone as we head towards Rio and also as we look towards the World ParaAthletics Championships in London next year and the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020. Not only have we won a significant number of medals this week but we have also introduced a lot of new faces who will learn from this experience and progress in their development.

Highlights on Channel 4 on Sunday 19.06.16 at 07:55 and get video clips from the event on C4 twitter page HEREand also on the Facebook page HERE.

British Athletics medal tally at the IPC Athletics European Championships: (56)

Gold:

Mickey Bushell – T53 100m

Jo Butterfield - F31/32/51 Club Throw

Richard Chiassaro – T54 200m

Aled Davies – F42 Shot Put and Discus

Dan Greaves – F44-46 Discus

Toby Gold – T33 100m

Sophie Hahn – T38 100m

Georgie Hermitage – T37 100m, 200m and T37/38 400m

Mo Jomni – T53 200m

Maria Lyle – T35 100m and 200m

Jonnie Peacock – T44 100m

Isaac Towers – T34 800m

David Weir – T54 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m

Richard Whitehead – T42 100m and 200m

Olivia Breen, Maria Lyle, Georgie Hermitage and Sophie Hahn - T35-38 4x100m relay


Silver:

Graeme Ballard – T36 100m and 200m

Dan Bramall – T33 100m

Richard Chiassaro – T54 100m, 400m and 800m

David Devine – T13 1500m

Sophie Hahn – T38 200m

David Henson – T42 200m

Mo Jomni – T53 400m and 800m

Gemma Prescott – F31/32/51 Club Throw

Sam Ruddock – F35 Shot Put

Laura Sugar – T44 100m

Carly Tait – T34 100m and 400m

Isaac Towers – T34 400m


Bronze:

Joshua Bain – F37 Discus

Jonathan Broom-Edwards – T42/44 High Jump

Mickey Bushell – T53 400m

Kadeena Cox – T38 200m

Jordan Howe – T35 100m and 200m

Abbie Hunnisett – F31/32/51 Club Throw

Mo Jomni – T53 100m

Stephen Miller – F32 Club Throw

Holly Neill – F40/41 Discus

Steve Osborne – T51 100m

Ben Rowlings – T34 100m, 400m and 800m

Laura Sugar – T44 200m

Isaac Towers – T34 200m