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UK Athletics

Paralympic Medal Haul

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Jonnie Peacock

06 September 2012

It was another memorable night in the athletics stadium with gold medals grasped by Hannah Cockroft, David Weir and Jonnie Peacock, report:

Britain had an incredible night in the Olympic stadium they won three golds, one silver and three bronzes to go with their earlier bronze in the morning. Britain have now won 26 athletics medals in total, nine of them gold.

The most eagerly awaited race of the Games was the T44 men’s 100m. Jonnie Peacock (Dan Pfaff) was only sixth in last year’s world championships but the 19-year old is a vastly improved athlete, having set a world record of 10.85 this summer. After the crowd chanted PEACOCK throughout the stadium as he was introduced there was a nervous faulty start and slip from Brazil’s 200m Paralympic champion, Alan Oliveira.

At the second attempt, it was the Briton who got the best start and he held a metre plus advantage all the way to the line to smash the Paralympic record with 10.90. Second was American Richard Browne of USA in 11.03 while South African Arnu Fourie on 11.08 surprisingly beat his more famous compatriot Oscar Pistorius. Oliveira was only seventh on 11.33.

The Briton said, “I was annoyed with my start yesterday and that might have been all right. This time I knew I could push and I was focused on the head down for so long. My drive phase is probably the best it's ever been in the race. At about 60m I started to think ‘I'm in the lead'. I felt the guys closing in and I felt I lost a bit of top speed.

"This is absolutely amazing. To go in front of so many people here was crazy. I hadn't been able to sleep in the three nights before this. I knew I had potential coming into this, I would have liked to have ran a little quicker but it was enough in the end. This will live with me forever, I could not have wished for better. It is such a relief because the last year has just been one huge build up.”

Just minutes earlier, David Weir (Jenny Archer) won his third gold of the Games but it was the toughest of the three.

There was an early crash involving Frenchman Julien Casoli crashing out at 200m but that didn’t affect the Briton who was perfectly placed behind the leader Lixin Zhang of China who led the first lap in 52.15. The Briton made his move along the backstraight and was technically ahead at 600m in 75.63 but the Chinese held him off all the way around the final bend. Weir was still trailing 50m out as his opponent did everything to hold him off but eventually the Briton edged past and at the line he won in 1:37.63 - world record holder Marcel Hug following him home. Weir's last 400m was 45.48 and his final 200m 21.90.

Weir remarked, “That was hard work tonight. I had to dig deep. You always have doubts because it's a strong field. You can't underestimate anyone. I knew the Chinese guy Zhang had a better top speed than anyone tonight so I knew if he was going to go out quick I had to match his speed. That's what I said to Jenny, I'll make sure I get on whoever's wheel in the first 200m if it was Marcel or the Chinese guy.

"Even (Dan) Greavesey on the last bend was shouting to get me going and he's got his own event to concentrate. We're just a good team - we're all mates everyone of us, the old ones, the young ones. It's a very good team spirit. I'm tired. I probably seem like I'm not enjoying it but I am tired now. I need to recover now for the marathon over the next two days."

Earlier on in the evening, Hannah Cockroft (Peter Eriksson) won her second gold in style. She had a superb bend and was already well clear and she stretched further away down the straight. setting an Paralympic record of 31.90/0.7 with Netherlands’ Amy Siemons a distant second in 34.16.

She said,“It’s fair to say I was nervous, I’m always nervous. I’m really happy though, I hit my top speed in the Games there. I could have gone quicker but I can’t complain, the gold medal was what I wanted. This summer has been breathtaking, this is what all the training has been for. I would love to be the new Chantal, she’s my inspiration! She says I’m already better than her but I don’t think there’s anything special about me, I train so hard and I’ve been on a special diet for 18 months, that’s getting broken tonight! I hope we’re doing everyone proud; everyone’s excited and I don’t want this to ever end, it’s been amazing.”

Melissa Nicholls (Job King) finished seventh in 40.00.

In the F44 discus, Dan Greaves (Jim Edwards) was competing in his fourth Paralympics. He won silver in 2000, gold in 2004 and bronze in 2008 and was the reigning world champion and he won another silver in a fantastic competition.

He started well with a 53.75m throw which led the first round and then he threw a Paralympic record of 56.29 in the second but that didn’t retain the lead as Iran’s Farzad Sepahvand set an Asian record of 56.73m to take over ownership of the paralympic record. Greaves response in the next round was a superb 59.01m to regain the record and go into a clear lead and go very close to his PB of 59.85m.The next round though world record holder Jeremy Campbell finally got it together and he threw 60.05. Greaves response was a no throw in the fourth and then solid 57.67m in the fifth and 55.58m in the last meaning he had to settle for silver behind the American.

Greaves said, "I'm over the moon. I really upped my game today. I just couldn't stop smiling. I wasn't nervous, but just enjoyed it. I think I peaked out there. I've had such an indifferent season with injuries and niggles and just to come away with a medal in elite Paralympic sport as my event has really moved on. It was a massive season's best for me. Five weeks ago I was diagonsed with a slight acute hernia, so I've only actually done five sessions. Really for me it's a massive bonus but being into gold medal position and having it snatched away is a little bit frustrating. But Campbell is a great competitor and we've had a ding-dong battle since Beijing so hopefully the rivalry will carry on till Rio and I can get success there. I really want to win the world championships.  I want to make it fou golds. Probably my greatest performance was being in here tonight. It almost felt like 'Super Saturday' and I hope that was the feeling that came across to the crowd - a 'Thriller Thursday'. To be part of that was great and when Jonnie saw me, we just gave each other a massive hug and it was just a great moment."

In the T36 200m final, Ben Rushgrove (Rob Ellchuk), who won bronze in this year’s European championships and last year’s World championships, gained another with the run of his life. In an exciting three way battle for gold, he set a PB of 24.83 as gold went to Ukraine’s Roman Pavlyk, who won the long jump yesterday.

Rushgrove, who won silver in the 100m in Beijing said, "it's very difficult to explain how I feel right now, I've had so many up and downs, but I think the easiest way to describe it now is relief. Now I've got my medal I can go out and celebrate what is an amazing achievement. I'm hugely privileged to have the opportunities I've had to pursue my dreams and see what comes of them. We've seen some people struggle in front of the home stadium, and maybe that happened to me a little bit in the 100m to be honest. The 100m was painful for me, I was in a situation where I wanted to win. I prepare very hard for Games like this and I prepare to win, not to lose. I still really like the idea of winning the 100m one day. The Paralympics is addictive and I want that buzz again." 

Close behind in fourth and in medal contention until 150m, 100m silver medallist Graeme Ballard (Steve Thomas), who had beaten Rushgrove in the European 200m Championships when taking silver. He timed 25.20 to be just outside his PB.

He said, “sport is one of those things, you win some, you lose some. In the middle I couldn't find that extra gear. I'll just go back to training. At the start of this if you said I'd leave with a medal, I'd have been pleased.”

In the T36 800m, Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk) won his second medal of the Games. As in the 400m, the race was won by Evgennii Shvetcov, who also won the 100m, but couldn’t because of the programming run the 200m. The Russian led through 400m in 62.81 but moved aside at 500m and Blake hit the front to great acclaim from the crowd. The Briton led at 600m in 95.18 but was unable to respond when the Russian kicked past him to win a Paralympic record of 2:05.32. His team-mate Artem Arefyev also kicked past down the straight but Blake was delighted to take bronze in 2:08.24.

He said, “The race went exactly to plan, but I was a bit tired after the 400m on Tuesday night. I kicked early and went a bit too soon and Shvetcov just caught up with me with 200m to go and I didn't have enough in the tank. I just held on for bronze and hoped that no-one was behind me. I really enjoyed the crowd tonight, I've had amazing support I'm really happy with a silver in the 400m and a bronze here. I'm just trying to get better and better and I've got plenty of time to improve. It's an honour to put the GB vest on every time, I'm really really proud, and to come away from here with a medal has just topped it off really”

In the men’s T46 100m Ola Abidogun (Steve Thomas) got a terrible start but came through strongly snatching  the bronze medal with a flying finish and timed 11.23. The winner was Xu Zhao of China in 11.25.

He said, “I’d say it was an average performance, my PB is quicker, but considering I’m only 19 and it’s a new experience, I’m happy. Any medal is worth celebrating.The crowd around me made me feel comfortable, they spurred me on and helped me pull it back in the end. I’m pretty new on the squad and I’m still learning. If I’d got a better start I could have gone quicker but I was a bit nervous. It’s motivated me to get back into training now.”

In the the T44 women’s 200m won by Marlou Van Rhijn of the Netherlands in a world record 26.18/1.0, both Brits set PBs. Stef Reid (Keith Antoine) was fourth in 28.62 and 16 year-old Sophie Kamlish (Rob Ellchuk) was sixth in 29.08.

Reid said, "I really fought for it. I wanted to go out on a high. I'm committed to Rio. In September 2011, I had a very serious injury to the vertebrae in my back. So I started running again in February. It has been a battle. It's not like I sat and did nothing. We found some awesome new ways to train. I was half considering getting on a bike in the Velodrome because I've been biking for so long, if it didn't heal up by February, seriously. The Brazilians have been amazing. What a party. They have made it into a comedy show, especially the guys." 

In the T38 women’s 200m, another 16 year-old Olivia Breen was eighth and close to her best with 30.22. She said, “I’ve done really well and the bronze medal in the relay was a highlight. I’ve just enjoyed getting to finals and I’ve has so much support, it’s been amazing, I couldn’t ask for more and I’m really happy with how I’ve performed. Tonight I had a good start and bend but I tired a bit towards the end.”

The race was won in a world record 27.39 by Junfei Chen of China.

Finally, Gemma Prescott (Michael Woods) finished 13th in the F32/33/34 Shot. She threw 4.19m for 535 points.