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gateshead disability challenge

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David Weir

09 July 2010

Building on the success of round one of the 2010 UKA Disability Athletics Challenge (DAC) in Knowsley (Liverpool) in May, the second event in the three-meeting series takes place in Gateshead this Sunday (11 July) with athletes continuing to target IPC Athletics World Championships qualifying standards ahead of the 30 September deadline.

Included on the start list are recent World Record breakers Mickey Bushell (coach: Fred Periac), Shelly Woods (coach: Pete Wyman) and Hannah Cockroft (coach: Peter Eriksson), while double Paralympic champion David Weir (coach: Jenny Archer) lines up in his second IAAF/Samsung Diamond League event in three days on Saturday after a third place finish in the 1500m (3:09.47) in Lausanne on Thursday (8 July) before continuing his tough race schedule in the Gateshead DACS on Sunday.

Weir, who clocked three impressive personal bests in Switzerland in June over 800m (1:32.66), 1500m (2:55.25) and 5000m (9:53.15), is confident that there’s more to come after a consistent period of training which shows he’s back to his best.

“It’s really unusual to be invited to three big meetings back to back (Lausanne, Gateshead and Paris), but it’s an opportunity that I just can’t turn down,” said Weir, who in spite of clocking marks inside his old World Records over 1500m and 5000m in the Swiss meets, lost out to local athlete Marcel Hug in both events. “I’m aiming to be on the top of my game in front of the home crowd in Gateshead as the first Diamond League meeting comes to the UK.”

Bushell, Woods and Cockroft have also been in exceptional form in recent weeks.

Beijing Paralympic Games silver medallist Bushell reduced his own T53 100m World Record when clocking 14.47 for victory and erasing the previous best of 14.69 in June.

The 20-year-old, who finished runner-up in the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in May, is now targeting a World Record mark in the 200m and has his sights set on four events - 100m 200m, 400m and 800m - when competing for the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team in the IPC Athletics World Championships in January 2011.

Having consistently demonstrated his talent over the shorter distances, the Telford-based athlete, who secured four victories from four in the British Wheelchair Racing Association (BWRA) Championships in Stoke in early May, is now aiming for World Championships qualifying marks in the one lap and half mile events. “It would be brilliant if I could qualify for all four in New Zealand,” he said. He has the chance to do just that when he lines up in the 800m in addition to the 100m and 200m in Gateshead.

While Bushell improved his own world best, Woods – who had travelled to the traditionally quick Swiss event directly from the States where she finished on the podium in all four of her events in the USA National Paralympic Championships - recorded her first ever World Record performance with an outstanding 3:21.22 for 1500m. She’ll be looking to build on that this weekend as well as clocking a quick time over the half mile distance.

Matching the performances of her more senior team mates, 17-year old Hannah Cockroft has also been outstanding in recent weeks recording four brilliant World Records over 100m (18.68), 200m (33.47), 400m (1:04.27 and 800m (2:04.84) in the T34 category.

The Halifax athlete will race over 100m and 200m this weekend as she continues to work hard to perfect her start technique and race execution.

Also lining up in Gateshead’s International Stadium is Ola Abidogun, victorious in the opening event of the UKA Disability Athletics Challenge Series in the T46 100m.

The 16-year-old, who set the standard for Britain’s Paralympic athletes at the 4th International Athletics Meeting in Tunisia at the end of June with a bronze medal and Commonwealth Games qualifying time of 11.59, only marginally outside his lifetime best of 11.51, will target victory in his number one event as well as the 200m.

For more information and the most up to date start list visit the Disability Athletics Challenge section on the UKA website