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Stephens fourth as sprinters qualify

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16 September 2008

Nathan Stephens finished an agonising fourth for Britain in the F57/58 javelin on the last morning of track and field action at the Paralympic Games in Beijing today.

Stephens put a brave face on finishing in the “worst possible place”. Lying third with 38.56m, he endured a tortuous half hour wait before the Czech thrower Rostislav Pohlmann pulled out a big one to snatch bronze from the 20-year-old Cardiff student in his last round.

“The only bloke who could have knocked me down, knocked me down,” said Stephens. “What can you do? This is my first Paralympics and my main aim has always been London so to come fourth is fantastic.

“Waiting for that half hour was agony,” added Stephens, who admitted to mixed emotions after the final.

“I’m disappointed because I was so close to the bronze but this is a mixed category event and I’m an F57 so to come fourth is pretty awesome. It was daunting for a little 20-year-old against the big guys. I’m still a baby compared to them.”

Stephens, a member of Britain’s ice sledge hockey team at the winter Paralympics in Turin two years ago, prefers cooler weather to Beijing’s muggy air. But he was a little too cool at first and only scraped into the last eight in seventh place after the first round of three throws.

His fourth was better, landing just 11cm below his PB. That moved him up to third before the Czech snaffled his medal at the death.

“To jump four places in the second round was very encouraging,” said Stephens. “But he landed one big one and that’s all you need. I threw really well and I don’t usually throw well in heat so to come close to my best is fantastic.

“I would have loved a bronze but I gave it my all and overall the experience has been superb. In some ways fourth is the worst place to finish but what can you do?”

Sprinters Libby Clegg and Mickey Bushell made it through to finals tonight. Wheelchair racer Bushell pushed a personal best of 15.33 to finish third in his T53 100m semi-final while Clegg qualified for the 200m B final tonight after she was fourth in her T12 semi in 26.16.

“That felt really good. I can probably push a bit quicker but it’s a bonus getting to the final really so whatever happens I’ve done well,” said the 18-year-old Telford student who also raced the 200m.

“No I’ll go to sleep and get ready for tonight. I’m really happy to be going again. It’s a great way to end.”

Norfolk thrower Danny Nobbs was 10th in the F53/54 shot put final with a best of 9.13m.