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UK Athletics

doha 2015 debutants - men

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Dave Henson
19 October 2015

In the first part of our introductions to the new members of the British Athletics team ahead of the IPC Athletics World Championships, we focus on the male debutants. Find out about 6 of the 14 new faces at Doha 2015….

David Henson (coach: Roger Keller) – T42 200m

Henson has been chosen as the flagbearer for the British team at the opening ceremony in Doha. After winning gold for Britain at the inaugural Invictus Games last year, the Afghanistan veteran will lead his country with pride as he competes in the T42 200m. He will take on compatriot Richard Whitehead in the T42 200m, and the Paralympic champion has acted as a mentor for the debutant in recent months. Henson has seen vast improvements over the last two years, including a superb second place finish at the Anniversary Games in the Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.


Zac Shaw (Peter Gifford) – T13 100m

The T13 athlete started athletics in November 2013, training at his local club in Cleethorpes. He has shaved almost half a second off his 100m PB so far in 2015. Shaw puts this down to hard work over the winter months which included tough sand dune sessions on Cleethorpes beach every Sunday morning. He recently started university at Sheffield Hallam and faces another exciting challenge at his maiden world championships.

The 20 year-old has a rare eye condition called Stargardt Disease which means he has average peripheral vision but the sight in the middle of the eye is badly damaged. 

Shaw said: “My central vision is affected. What someone with 20:20 vision can see from 60m, I can only see from 3m. It affects me during day to day life but I try to put it behind me when I run and try to focus on getting to the line as quick as possible. Sport is a great way to show the positives of disability rather than the negatives.

“I started athletics two years ago and it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ever since. This year has been really big for me. I put in a lot of hard work over the winter and focused on my weaknesses to improve upon them. Hopefully now I can perform well in Doha.”


Tony Mills (Edward Thompson) – T44 Long Jump

Mills may have found fame last year on the ITV dating programme Take Me Out, but he will be in the limelight for his sporting prowess over the next couple of weeks as he competes in the T44 Long Jump. He had his leg amputated after a football accident in 1998 but he went on to compete for England at the 2001 football World Amputee Championships. 

Spotted by coach Anthony Hughes in 2007, Mills transferred to athletics in 2010 and has become one of the high fliers within his class. He faces a formidable opponent in Markus Rehm, the German who has jumped a best of 8.29m but the Brit will have an outside chance of winning a medal on his debut in a British vest.

Mills commented: “It feels amazing – I came into athletics five years ago and the first year or two was a struggle in terms of my stump and how it was reacting to the training. It’s been a long and winding road, but it has paid dividends. To get the nod and the selection was overwhelming. It’s all been worth it and I’m glad I stuck with it.”


Toby Gold (Jenny Archer) – T33 100m

Gold is part of the WeirArcher Academy which has produced wheelchair talent in abundance over the past few years. Training alongside six-time Paralympic champion David Weir and coached by Jenny Archer, he has risen through the ranks over the last few years, winning three bronze medals at the IWAS Junior Games in 2014. He is the European record holder in the T33 100m, a new event at the World Championships this year and will be targeting a strong performance out in Doha.

Gold balances his athletics with acting as an assistant coach of a basketball team (Richmond Knights) and is completing a sports science degree. However, he will have 100% focus on the 100m this week and makes his first appearance on the world stage on 28 October.

Dan Bramall (Rick Hoskins) – T33 100m

Bramall has been involved in athletics since 2011, and after years of hard work, he will take his place in the 100m alongside fellow Briton, Toby Gold. The Stockport Harrier moved onto the WCPP Paralympic potential funding last year and has improved his 100m time by nearly half a second in 2015 to earn his place on the squad in Qatar.


Shaun Burrows (Joe McDonnell) – T38 100m and 400m

Burrows captured T37/38 100m gold at the IWAS Junior Games earlier this summer, an early indicator of his talent. The 17 year-old got involved in athletics at the age of 13 when his dad took him to the North Staffordshire Special Olympics group and his athletics career has continued to grow since. The Loughborough-based athlete trains alongside world champions Sophie Hahn and Libby Clegg, and will draw on their experiences as he prepares to step up to senior level.

We will profile the female debutants tomorrow…