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Throwers win medals

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Stephen Miller and Danny Greaves couldn’t have done much more to defend their throwing titles at the Paralympic Games in Beijing tonight, but both were forced to accept minor medals as Miller took silver and Greaves bronze for ParalympicsGB.

Miller has dominated the F32/51 club event for the last three Games. But despite throwing further than he has all year, the 28-year-old lost the gold medal he has owned for the last 12 years when Mourad Idoudi of Tunisia broke his world record with 35.77 to become the first man ever to beat the Briton at a Paralympic Games.

Miller was lying fourth before his last attempt but snatched the silver with a sixth throw of 34.37m. It was a huge last-ditch effort to retain his title but fell tantalisingly 1.40m short.

“Silver is better than fourth, but obviously I wanted to win,” said Miller. “Overall I'm pleased with my performance.”

Miller has been virtually unbeatable at this event since he won his first title in Atlanta 12 years ago. He went into tonight’s final as a triple Paralympic and triple world champion but accepted tonight he’d been beaten by a better man.

“The athlete from Tunisia threw a massive PB, but that's sport,” he said. “I expected to be pushed to the limit but I fully expected 34.00m to win. “The atmosphere is absolutely fantastic. I've never competed in a full stadium – it was awesome. I'm glad I held it together and didn't get overawed."

Kieron Murphy was seventh with 29.03m while Richard Schabel failed to make the cut to get into the top eight. He finished 10th with 21.06m. Murphy said: “My goal was to make the final eight, which I did, but my dream was to make the podium.”

Schabel, who celebrated his 50th birthday a few days before the Games, was also hoping to make the top eight. “I’m a bit disappointed,” he said. “I broke my favourite club in warm up, so I had to use a different club. I should have thrown further.”

Greaves wished he’d thrown further too, saying he was “gutted” to lose his F44 discus title when he finished third with 53.04m.

Greaves won the Athens gold with a world record 55.12m but the Leicester student couldn’t repeat that form here as Jeremy Campbell stole his crown. The American won with 55.08m while Jackie Christiansen of Denmark repeated his Athens silver with 53.69m.

For Greaves, the Sydney silver medallist and double world champion, defeat was hard to take. He has thrown 54.05m this year and went into tonight’s contest with the best form of all the finalists.

“Any medal is good at this level,” said Greaves. “But this wasn’t the colour I wanted. It really baffles me because I feel I am in the best form of my life. It just didn’t happen. I don’t know why. I’m gutted I just couldn’t produce the extra few metres today.

“It’s difficult when you’ve won gold in the past and been at the pinnacle of the sport. This has shown me I’m not quite the best. Jeremy is a new guy to the circuit and he wasn’t consistent today. But he had a long last throw and it only takes one to win it.

“The sport has come on so much since my first Games in Sydney. We are elite athletes now. It’s just as competitive as the able bodied events. Athletes across the world are stepping up and people are coming out of the woodwork.”

Greaves is only 25, though, and is already planning to regain his title in four years time.

“Hopefully I can change things around for London,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll have grown in stature, improved my technique and I’ll only be 29. I think I can win gold in London.”

Sophie Hancock was fifth and Kim Minett sixth in the F40 shot put won by Raoua Tlili of Tunisia with a world record 8.95m. Hancock, who’s best effort landed at 7.48m, produced five throws over her old personal best, and was keen to look forward.

“I’m really pleased, as it was 48cm over my old PB of 7.00m,” said the Loughborough-based 22-year-old. It’s my first Paralympics and I feel really proud. I think I can definitely match the distances the winner produced today in London 2012.”

Graeme Ballard was Britain’s sole representative on the track and the 29-year-old from Chorley was sixth in the T36 200m in 25.69. The Lancashire sprinter ran a superb bend as he chased the Beijing 100m champion Roman Pavlyk of Ukraine, but paid the price for his fast start in the closing stages when he faded from the medal positions.

Pavlyk tied up too and was caught by So Wa Wai of Hong Kong who broke the world record in 24.65 to win gold.

“I gave it my best shot, but it just didn’t happen,” said Ballard. “There was an amazing roar around the bend, but I couldn’t react enough and they pulled away from me. I am really disappointed, but I hope I will be competing in London 2012.”