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UK Athletics

Throwsfest in World Record performance

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Sophie Hancock threw down the gauntlet to athletes preparing for next month’s IPC World Championships by beating the official F40 discus World Record at the inaugural Throwfest challenge.


The 19-year-old from Horwich produced a fifth round throw of 20.00m at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.


That eclipsed the record of 19.23m set by American athlete Jill Kennedy at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. But Sophie now faces a wait to learn whether her throw will be accepted by the International Paralympic Committee as a new World Record, which depends on whether it was an IPC sanctioned event.


Kennedy also threw further than her official record a month ago – hitting 19.30m at US Paralympics Track & Field National Championships – but this was not recognised as a world record.


Despite this it was a world class performance fully deserved by Hancock whose recent sessions had been going very well.

“I’ve been throwing pretty well in training, but I didn’t expect to throw further than the World Record,” said a delighted Sophie, whose Throwfest series was no-throw, 18.27m, 15.94m, 17.93m, 20.00m, 15.01m.


“I’d had a couple of 18m throws already, so it was going all right. I thought the throw was around 19m, but when they said 20m I was shocked,” she added. “I couldn’t believe it.


“Training has been going really well lately, so hopefully I can keep it up until the World Championships.”


Sophie returns to action this weekend, alongside fellow World Class Performance funded athlete Kim Minett, at the European Dwarf Championships in Belfast.


The pair are also members of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team competing at the IPC World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands from 2nd to 10th September. They both throw in both the F40 discus and shot.

Kim, a City of Portsmouth AC athlete, took part in the shot at the weekend, producing a best throw of 6.44m.


Beverley Jones (West Cheshire AC), who runs in the T37 100m and 200m in Assen and also throws in the F37 shot, saved her best till last in the Throwfest shot, throwing 9.55m with her sixth and final throw of her series. She had opened up with 8.23m, but then threw four successive no-throws.


Danny West was in impressive form in the Throwfest disability discus event. The F34 thrower continued his preparations for Assen by throwing 37.63m on his fourth throw – 87cm further than his silver medal winning performance at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.


Nathan Stephens, who throws the F57 shot and the javelin in Assen, finished second to Danny at the Alexander Stadium, with 34.92m.


Dave Gale produced the best F51 discus performance of the day, throwing 9.62m – 21cm more than the throw that won him bronze at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. Richard Schabel, who will also compete in the F51 discus in Assen, threw 8.42m. F32 thrower Stephen Miller had three non-throws en route to his 14.01m.


Nathan Stephens followed up his second place in the discus with a winning performance in the disability shot, throwing 10.76m, while F32 athlete Bernard Doolan threw 5.81m.


Meanwhile, wheelchair racer David Weir was also in impressive form, taking gold in the 800m disability event at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix in Crystal Place on Friday night.


The 27-year-old was particularly pleased with his performance as he managed to turn the tables on Swiss racer Marcel Hug, who recently beat David over 1500m in Switzerland.


“It was nice to beat him over 800m and it felt fairly comfortable,” said David.


“I’m not fully 100 per cent back after a training accident a couple of months ago, but I’m slowly getting back to my peak,” he said.


“I was out for a month and I only had three or four weeks of solid training to prepare for Crystal Palace.”


David is likely to renew his rivalry with Hug in the 1500m wheelchair race at the European Athletics Championships, which take place in Gothenburg from 6th to 13th August.


David won Friday’s 800m race in 1:41.03, with Hug finishing second in 1:41.23. The USA’s Jordan Bird finished in bronze medal position in 1:42.77. Britain’s Brian Aldiss and Tushar Patel, who like David Weir, will compete at the Assen 2006 IPC World Championships, finished fourth and fifth respectively, with fellow Brit Jason Gill sixth.


David Weir, Tushar and Brian will all be in action for Great Britain in the T54 1500m at the European Athletics Championships, while Dame Tanni Grey Thompson and Shelly Woods compete in the women’s 800m T54 race.