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Libby Clegg

25 May 2010

Libby Clegg (coach: Tom Crick) defended her BT Paralympic World Cup T11/12 100m title with a well executed victory in today’s BT Paralympic World Cup at the Manchester Regional Arena, Sport City, the first of three Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team winners of the day in the official match events.

The Beijing Paralympic Games 100m silver medallist, who is based at the UKA National Performance Centre in Loughborough, clocked 13.25 for victory into a strong headwind (-4.1m) and held her form to finish clear of Spain’s Eva Ngui in second (13.41).

“I’m really happy with my performance, especially when you look at how strong the wind was," she said. "I’m definitely in much better shape than I was this time last year and I think that showed today.”

Also in the women’s T11/12 class, five times Paralympian Tracey Hinton (coach: Darrell Maynard), one of the most experienced members of the Aviva GB & NI team, won gold in the 200m (27.46). “I didn’t expect to be here so I’m really proud,” she said. “It’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever had at this event and it’s been really fantastic.”

There was also a gold medal winning performance from Dan Greaves (coach: Jim Edwards) in the discus (56.22), only two days after his 57.14 World Record Loughborough. It was a brilliant performance from the 2008 Paralympic Games bronze medallist and former champion against some of his biggest rivals. “It’s nice to be consistent,” he said, “especially being able to put in another 56m plus performance on front of the big home support.”

Aled Davies (coach: Anthony Hughes), the 2009 Welsh Open Senior Championships discus gold medallist, finished seventh (40.92).

Back on the track, Graeme Ballard (coach: Steve Thomas) was also impressive, finishing second in the men’s T36/37/38 100m and 200m in 12.78 and 26.26 respectively. “That was fantastic. It’s definitely been one of my best performances,” he said after his 200m silver medal. “It was awesome, I’m delighted, I wasn’t thinking about anyone else or even my time, I just wanted to hold onto my form coming into the final straight. I was just looking after number one.”

GB & NI’s Stephen Keeling finished fifth in the 200m (26.92), but went one better with a fourth place finish in the 100m (13.14).

Matching Ballard’s performances, there were also brilliant medal doubles from sprinters Katrina Hart (coach: Rob Ellchuk) and Jenny McLoughlin (coach: Darrell Maynard) who won silver and bronze respectively in both 100m and 200m events in the women’s T36/37 category.

Hart, a 100m silver medallist in 2009, opened her account with 14.86 in the 100m before clocking 30.91 for silver – and a second trip to the podium – in the 200m. “I felt quite tired; I’ve run a few races in the last week so it’s taken it out me. I obviously wanted to win gold, but I’m happy with my performances and it’s something to build on.”

McLoughlin, who failed to medal in the BT Paralympic World Cup 12 months ago, finished third with 15.07 in the 100m and 31.39 in the 200m, both lifetime best performances, while Hazel Robson (coach: Matt Wood) finished sixth in the 100m (15.07) and fifth in the 200m (31.39). Both events were won by Germany’s Maria Seifert.

In the men’s short sprints (T53/54), Mickey Bushell (coach: Fred Periac), after a busy period of competition in recent weeks, finished second and fourth in the 100m (15.40) and 200m (28.87) respectively, while Daniel Lucker (coach: Jenny Archer), a great prospect now training in a strong group including experienced Paralympian David Weir, finished fifth in the 100m in 16.70 and sixth in the 200m (29.79).

In the men’s T11-13 short sprints - which at the sharp end were amongst the highest quality on the event programme due to the inclusion of world number one Jason Smyth (Ireland) - GB & NI’s James Ball (coach: Jon Coia) won silver and bronze in the 100m and 200m respectively, both in lifetime best performances.

He kicked off with a third place finish in the 200m in 24.35 before going one better in the 100m, finishing second (11.76). The impressive Smyth, who has already achieved the qualifying standard to represent Ireland in this summer’s European Championships in Barcelona (100m), opened his account with a 22.07 clocking in the 200m, before a gold medal winning performance of 10.66 in the 100m.

Ball’s team mate Paul Willis (coach: Angela Robertshaw) finished fifth in the 200m (24.67) and fourth in the 100m (12.33).

Moving up a distance, Beijing Paralympics double bronze medallist Ian Jones (coach: John Dunne), a local athlete, had a fantastic crowd behind him as he targeted the T44 400m World Record; he didn’t achieve it on this occasion - the windy conditions undoubtedly a factor - but he did finish second in 52.16, with team mate Richard Whitehead (coach: Liz Yelling), more of an endurance specialist, finishing fourth (57.33) and South Africa’s Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius - matching his earlier victory in the 100m (11.33) - taking gold in 48.83.

Jones also made the podium with a third place finish in the 100m in 11.90, but aside from Pistorius, the media interest in that particular event was centred around new kid on the block Jonnie Peacock (coach: Hayley Ginn) who finished two places behind him in fifth (12.23). While the race was exploding ahead of him, Peacock, who turns 17 years old next week, tasted his first experience of international competition. “It was very exciting, I was a bit nervous and I had the jitters but it’s the experience of being in a big race and I’ll learn from it," he admitted. "It’s been brilliant and I’ve learned so much. I’ve already got the qualifying standard for the IWAS Juniors later this summer so that’s another chance to compete at a high level. This is my first race in a GB vest and I was so excited to get all my kit for the first time!”

Back on the in-field there was an impressive lifetime best performance and IPC Athletics World Championships qualifying standard for Sophie Hancock (coach: Shelley Quarin) in the women’s F12/13/40 shot putt.

The Bolton-based athlete, who competed for Team GB in the Beijing Paralympics, won BT Paralympic World Cup shot putt gold in 2009 and finished the season in the world’s top three. She finished third today with 7.64m and was delighted to achieve the World Championships mark in a line up which included the best in the world. “I’m really pleased to throw that World Championship standard, that was my main aim for today and also a personal best and I’m really happy," she said. "The crowd was great and it was a really good, well organised competition. I really appreciated having the top two in the world in our class travel over here for the event and it really helped push my performance. It’s given me something to work towards and given me an idea of what it’s going to be like in the World Championships.”

The event was won by Tunisia’s Raoua Tlili (9.13m) with China’s Genjimisu Meng in second (8.19m) and GB & NI’s Vicky Silk (coach: Ted Hawkins) in sixth (5.94m).

In the men’s T53/54 800m, Britain’s number one David Weir (coach: Jenny Archer) finished second in one of the most exciting races of the day. Having gone head to head with Switzerland’s Marcel Hug at UKA’s Disability Athletics Challenge event in Knowsley at the weekend, the pair once again lined up in a strong field. Weir, who had the better of Hug over 800m on Saturday, was second at the half way point and had to take the long way round as he worked to pass him with 250m to go. As they pushed into the final straight it was clear that Hug would continue his great form in the UK with victory in 1:38.54. Weir finished second in 1:38.92 with Thailand’s Prawat Wahoram in third (1:40.44) and Weir's GB team mate Brian Alldis (coach: Tanni Grey-Thompson) in seventh (1:49.85).

Having appeared to give his all in the 800m, it was clear Weir was not finished as he took the lead in the 1500m, the final event of the day. He led through the opening two laps, his main rivals lining up behind him, but as they hit the last lap, Paralympian Hug broke clear and within seconds, the three-times Knowsley winner had built an unassailable lead.

“I haven’t felt myself since the weekend,” he said, disappointed to finish fifth in 3:19.21. “Liverpool went ok, not as well as I’d hoped, but by the time I got to the 1500m today I had nothing left in the tank when I needed to respond.”

Hug won in 3:13.68 with Alldis in seventh (3:25.08).

In a race which matched the quality and intensity of the men’s event, USA’s Tatyana McFadden, a four times medallist in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, was the dominant victor in the women’s T53/54 800m. At the half way mark the chasing pack, which was headed by GB & NI’s Shelly Woods (coach: Pete Wyman), was off the pace by over a second. McFadden’s lead was never in doubt and she pulled further clear to clock 1:56.99 for victory ahead of Canada’s Dian Roy (2:00.37) with Woods finishing in third in 2:01.23.

As they moved up a distance, Britain’s Woods and the USA’s Amanda McGrory led a close group through 800m as they raced a tactical T53/54 1500m. They went through half way in 2:10.04 before 800m winner McFadden took the lead into the last 150m to secure the double (3:54.66), with Roy in second (3:54.88) and Woods, winning her second bronze of the afternoon, in third (3:55.74).

“It’s been ok today, two bronzes and both totally different races," she said, "but Tatyana was the strongest in the field and I wanted to try to beat her here. I did the tactics the best I could but she was too strong in the finish. I’ve had a busy weekend and I’ve had some great races and I’ve got a few qualifying performances for the World Championships and a few PBs. The close finishes over the past few days have taken their toll, but it’s great to push our performances and to have this world class competition here in Manchester.”

Stefanie Reid (Dan Pfaff), in her first official outing for the Aviva GB & NI team finished third in the women’s T44/46 200m in 30.37, admitting her performance was ok but the experience was a good one: "I really like this event and that race. It was tough out there and I really had to fight for third place. It’s nice when you have to do something like that and you have the confidence to know you can fight, that you can scrap right to the end.”

She went on to finish fourth in the T44/46 100m in 14.77, a race won by Germany’s Katrin Green - her second victory of the day after 200m gold - in 14.01, but in both performances she was up against some of the best athletes in the world in her classification group.

Concluding the day's actin, David Devine (coach: Brian Scobie) finished third in the men’s T11-13 400m in 53.32, while Dan West (coach: Jim Edwards) finished fourth in the men’s F33/34/54-57 discus with 33.74m.

In the showcase club throw event (F32/51), Stephen Miller (coach: Ros Miller) was victorious with a 31.67m effort ahead of Tunisia’s Mourad Idoudi in second (30.11), with Thomas Green (coach: Ken Green) in fourth (25.09m).

For more information including results visit http://www.btparalympicworldcup.com/