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ipc world championships (14)

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Nathan Stephens
Nathan Stephens

28 January 2011

Nathan Stephens (coach: Anthony Hughes) completed an outstanding week for his coach and training group – and in turn, for Wales – with a brilliant gold medal, lifetime best and Championship Record in the F57/58 javelin (39.11m/884 points) at the IPC Athletics World Championships Christchurch, New Zealand (21-30 January) this evening.

Stephens, who had watched his training partners Aled Davies, Hollie Arnold and Kyron Duke all win bronze in the past 24 hours, was determined to play his own part in the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team success and did so in style with his fourth round throw to take the current medal total to 35.

“I knew I had it in me,” said the IWAS World Junior Champion. “I was popping out some big ones in our preparation camp in Auckland and to come out of the first round in second place...I knew I could only do one thing and that was to throw further.

“The way I hit it, it was lovely, and to wipe the floor with Pohlmann (Czech athlete Rostislav Pohlmann who had pushed him down into fourth position in the Beijing Paralympic Games), I just loved it!”

“I couldn’t let the Welsh boys down,” he added; “that’s the one main thing we changed from Beijing. We don’t compete as individuals anymore, we compete as a team.”

Making it a double success for coach Anthony Hughes in the evening session, Kyron Duke – who was competing in the F40 javelin simultaneously with Stephens’ event – finished third.

“I loved it out there,” said the World Junior Championships fourth place finisher who smashed his lifetime best with a mark of 32.64m in the second round and threw four times in excess of 31m in a mainly consistent series.

“I didn’t expect to medal, but once I saw my name in a medal position I started to believe it. Having all the guys around me and supporting me makes me so happy.”

The event was won by Kovan Abdulraheem of Iraq in a new Championship Record of 36.32m.

Completing a trio of podium finishes on the night, Sophia Warner (coach: Alan Denyer/Jonas Dodoo) added T35 200m silver to her 100m bronze in a personal best time of 37.04 (+0.6m/s), smashing her previous best mark by over two seconds.

“I’m so pleased, it’s a really good PB and just shows how everything I’ve been doing in training since September has benefited me,” she said, referring to her strength training focus over the past three months.

World Record holder Rachael Dodds (Australia) took the victory in 36.78.

Shelly Woods (coach: Pete Wyman), T54 5000m bronze medallist, and Mickey Bushell (coach: Fred Periac), double World Championships medallist in the T53 100m (silver) and 200m (bronze), finished outside the medals in their respective finals, however.

T54 1500m World Record holder Woods, who was well positioned in fourth at the bell, eventually finished seventh in 3:37.89 and admitted she didn’t feel as sharp as she needed to be in such a highly competitive event.

“It was really tactical and I’m not as sharp as I need to be for this,” she said. “I wanted to be up near the front to give myself the best possible chance but although I feel fit I’m definitely not as sharp as I was in the summer.”

Bushell was just pleased to have made the final of the men’s T53 400m – admittedly not his number one event – and was satisfied in spite of his eight place finish (54.58).

“I’ve had my highs and lows in this Championship, but it’s been ok,” he said. “I’m glad to have got here and I’m happy with that performance. My highlight of the week was definitely my 200m bronze, I didn’t expect to medal.”

In this evening’s heats, Bethy Woodward (coach: Jonas Dodoo), T35-38 4 x 100m relay bronze medallist, clocked 1:12.30 for victory in round one of the T37 400m, while Paul Blake (coach: Rob Ellchuk) - double world silver medallist over 800m and 1500m - cruised through to the final of the T36 400m as fastest qualifier in 57.96 and in doing so sliced over two seconds off his lifetime best.

David Devine (coach: Brian Scobie), former IBSA Open European Championships 800m silver medallist, looked confident and strong as he clocked 2:00.43 to progress through to the final of the T12 800m behind World Record holder Zhiou Abderrahim.

All three athletes line up on the penultimate day of action tomorrow with the Aviva GB & NI programme commencing at 10.55 NZ time (21.55 UK time) with Jade Jones (coach: Ian Thompson/Tanni Grey-Thompson) in the T54 400m final.

For the latest news about the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships, please visit www.ipcathleticsworldchamps.com, while the IPC’s online TV channel www.ParalympicSport.TV is broadcasting live coverage of the evening sessions from Christchurch.

Daily session reports will be posted on the UKA website: www.uka.org.uk