24th May 2009

Brits In 16 Medal Haul


24 May 2009

British athletes won 16 medals including four gold at the BT Paralympic World Cup at the Manchester Regional Arena on Sunday.

Paralympic 1500m and 800m champion David Weir delighted the sun-bathed crowd as he took gold and silver from the T54 middle distance races after two memorable wheelchair battles with Switzerland’s Marcel Hug. The Swiss held off the home favourite to win the two lap race early in the afternoon to triumph in 1:41.72, with the Brit just 0.34 secs adrift in second.

But Weir had his revenge later in the day, producing a near flawless gun to tape tactical performance to hold off the charging Hug by just 16 hundredths to win in 3:21.24.

Afterwards, Weir said: “It feels good to win two medals and get the cobwebs out after Beijing. I’ve had five months out so I’m pretty pleased with my performance today. I felt a little bit rusty today, but I just need a few more races and I’ll be back to perfect, maybe even better than Beijing.

“The BT Paralympic World Cup is really important. It’s the first race of the season so it’s good to test your body and see how fit you are. It gives you a chance to see your competition as well and see how they are getting on at this early stage of the year.”

Other British gold medallists were Libby Clegg who won the women’s T12 100m in 12.78 (-0.6m/s) and Daniel West who won the F34/54-57 shot with a throw of 10.52m, which was converted into a winning score of 975 points and Ben Rushgrove who won the T36 100m in 12.47 (-1.8m/s). Clegg added bronze in the T12 200m, clocking 26.57 (-0.5m/s).

Rushgrove’s winning time was a Championship best performance, but that did not fully satisfy the ambitious 21 year old. He said: “If I’m honest I’m a bit disappointed with the time but at this stage in the season I don’t think we could’ve done much better than that. It’s my first race of the season and I’ve been injured so not much training under my belt so it’s a good point to build form here. Every time you go out you need to push that time a little bit further but today I’m happy with the race.

“The BT Paralympic World Cup is fantastic, we really need more of events like this. It’s really important that we keep the public aware of what’s going on in the Paralympic world, it’s such an exciting business at the moment, with lots of new developments happening.”

Scottish Clegg said: “That was great, I’m really pleased. It’s my first race of the season, and this competition comes at a great time for me, training has been going well and I’m pleased with my time. This is the second time I’ve competed here at the BT Paralympic World Cup. It’s a great opportunity to race internationally and gives me a good indicator of how I’m running this year so I’m pleased with the time and looking forward to the rest of the year.”

The other medallists were: Sophie Hancock, who won double bronze in the F40 discus and shot with bests of 20.59m and 7.14m; Ian Jones who took bronze in the T44 100m and silver in the T44 400m, both in European record times of 11.49 (1.8m/s) and 51.33 respectively; Robin Womack who took  bronze in the F34/54-57 shot with 10.47m (924 points); Katrina Hart won silver in the T36/37 100m in 14.93 (-0.3m/s); Shelly Woods who won double bronze in the T54 800m and 1500m with 2:01.85 and 3:51.49; Michael Churm who won T37 100m silver in 12.75secs (0.0m/s); Richard Schabel who won silver in the F32/51 club with 20.51m (851 points) just ahead of bronze medal-winning team-mate Kieron Murphy who produced a best of 25.58m (804 points).

Jones revelled in his high profile meetings with South Africa Oscar Pistorius – who enjoyed a double triumph in the T44 100m and 400m.

The Mancunian said:  “Two PB’s, two European Records, it’s been great and more than I expected. I did the 100m as a warm up to the four so to medal and get a PB was brilliant. I can only improve from that so I’m looking forward to my next race now. The BT Paralympic World Cup has been a great event, it’s been a great day, the sun’s come out the crowd were great and very supportive I couldn’t ask for more in my home city, it’s been awesome.”

However, there was disappointment for ParalympicsGB flag bearer in Beijing, Danny Crates. Travelling well in the T46 800m, he pulled up at the 600m mark when placed second later complaining of a sore left hamstring.