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Gritty Simpson sprints to bronze

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Mickey Bushell
Bushell - First Brit under 28 seconds


13 September 2008



Hazel Simpson won bronze in the T36 200m at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing today to go with the two silver medals she picked up in Athens four years ago.

Simpson was disqualified in the Sydney 200m final for running out of her lane but made no mistake this time as she chased home China’s Wang Fang and Claudia Nicoleitzic of Germany in 32.43.

“I'm really happy to take bronze,” said the 29-year-old Sunderland sprinter. “I had to really grit my teeth and run all the way through the line. I nearly crushed my teeth.

“I don't care about the time, I just wanted a medal.”

Simpson was cheered on by her husband in the crowd. She said: "My uncle told me not to come home with a bronze. He wanted me to get silver, but I did my best.

“It was so noisy at the start, trying to concentrate was really hard.”

Simpson now has three days’ rest until she returns for the 100m.

Nathan Stephens finished 11th in the F57/58 discus final with a best of 38.89m. Stephens’ main hope of a medal comes in the javelin on Tuesday.

He said: “I was two metres down on my season's best but not too disappointed, as it’s just good preparation for my javelin, that's the one.

“The atmosphere is phenomenal, the crowds are the biggest I have ever seen.”

Ian Jones survived a tough test in his T44 200m semi-final. Facing South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, Jones produced a personal best to finish less than a second behind the famous ‘Blade Runner’ and Beijing 100m champion in 23.67.

Jones, who has a ParalympicsGB lion shaved in the back of his head, will go into tonight’s final with a medal in his sights.

“I am absolutely over the moon, I feel fantastic,” said Jones. “I am chuffed to break my PB in qualifying.

“I had a complete adenalin rush and felt no nerves when I lined up. Now, I'm really excited about the final. I know I'm in the mix.”

Katrina Hart was fourth in her T37 200m semi-final in 31.24, a season’s best for the 18-year-old who was delighted to qualify for tomorrow’s final so soon after returning from injury.

“I'm really pleased to make the final,” she said. “I always have a good finish and I managed to come through at the end.

“I want to go under 31 seconds in the final and lower my personal best.”

Another youngster Jenny McLoughlin was eighth in her heat. The 17-year-old clocked a personal best of 32.71. She did not qualify but is already looking to the future.

“I did a PB so I'm pleased, it was much better than my 100m,” said Hart. “It was awesome with the crowd.

“I've only been with my coach since last October, so I'm looking forward to a good winter of training."

Wheelchair racer Mickey Bushell broke the British record to finish sixth in his T53 200m semi-final. The 18-year-old Telford student will not go through to the final despite becoming the first Briton under 28 seconds.

"I've broken the British record so I'm happy,” said Bushell, who clocked 27.85 behind Yu Shiran of China. “I set the record in Stoke earlier this year and now I have broken 28 seconds for the first time.

“I had a good start and was pleased with the whole race. It’s an amazing stadium."

Scottish sprinter Neil Fachie was fifth in the T13 100m heats while North easterner Stephen Payton finished sixth in his T38 200m. Neither qualified for their finals.

Fachie said: “I've been waiting two weeks in the village to get on the track, so I was just pleased to get out there.

“It was a tough qualification, but I should have run a bit quicker. My 100m just doesn't seem to be clicking this year, but my main target is the 200m here."

The 31-year-old Payton was a triple Paralympic Champion in Atlanta 12 years ago but he won’t be among the medals this time.

Payton said afterwards:

"I reacted well to the gun but I didn't have a good race. There was a problem with my hamstring in warm up, but I'm disappointed. I'm bemused as to why I didn't run well over 400m too. I don't seem to be coping well with the atmosphere and pollution.

“It is a fabulous Games, though. It definitely beats Sydney. The atmosphere, organisation and crowds are fantastic. London has so much to live up to now."