23rd August 2014

Gb & Ni Leave Swansea On A High

23 August 2014

Great Britain & Northern Ireland produced five more medals on the final day of a successful IPC European Championships in Swansea as they finished third in the medal table with 52 medals overall. 16 gold, 19 silver and 17 bronze medals were collected by the British team over five highly entertaining days of action.

Aled Davies (Anthony Hughes), the world record holder in the F42 discus, won his second European gold medal of the week in the event as he was roared on by the home crowd. The Welshman showed his class in Swansea as he thrived on the wild support. His throw of 46.46m was enough to dominate the rest of the field as the championships ended with a special gold medal for the local hero. 

‘It’s up there with all my other achievements but it makes it even more special in front of a home crowd. Swansea is just down the road from where I’m from so this is home soil for me. London was special because it was a home championships but this is literally my back garden. It’s great to see so many familiar faces supporting me in the crowd and I’m glad I delivered for them.’

‘I’ve won a medal in every major championship now – European, World and Paralympic champion so now it is all about distances and pushing that record further. I caught one today and it was good enough I felt to go over 50m but the wind blew it back. I’ve learnt a lot this summer after the disappointment in Glasgow at the Commonwealths, so I will take this all into the winter, rebuild and come back a mid 50m thrower. I definitely think I can break that 50m barrier, it’s only a matter of time.’

Fellow Welshman Kyron Duke (Hughes) won silver again in the F41 shot put to add to his javelin silver from day two. His throw of 11.96m was not far outside his PB but he thrived on the home crowd along with Davies on the final day of action.

‘It was pretty exciting seeing Aled (Davies) competing at the same time.  He’s my training partner so it was great to see him win. We both had the crowd behind us who were going ecstatic. The crowd were great – but they were a Welsh home crowd and you can’t get better than that.’

The T35-38 4x100m relay rounded up proceedings in Swansea and the GB & NI team went out with a bang with the silver medal and a new British record of 53.84. The race was won by the Russian’s who were anchored home by Goncharova in a new world record but the British quartet led for most of the race. Olivia Breen (Jonas Taiwah-Dodoo) started perfectly, overtaking the German on the inside within 40m and Bethany Woodward (Jared Deacon) produced a good leg down the back straight. T38 silver medallist Sophie Hahn (Joseph McDonnell) handed the baton over the Jenny McLoughlin (Keith Antoine) in the lead but the Russian individual T38 100m champion showed her class to overhaul her. However, there was great joy from the British team after the new national record. Woodward ran the second late and was delighted to be part of the record breaking quartet.

‘That was incredible. It was always going to be a bit difficult as we have only just started as a quartet but we executed every baton change really well and gave the Russians something to fight for.’

McLoughlin anchored the team home and promised there is more to come from this young team.

‘It’s absolutely fantastic. Sophie gave me an amazing head start and I just had to really go for it. Yes we got pipped on the line but we have only been together for such a short period, in two years’ time we could be even more of a force. It’s great to train and compete with these girls. Swansea has been great – so thank you to all the team staff and supporters who have made this a great championship.’

Isaac Towers (Peter Wyman) capped off a fantastic week on his debut in a GB & NI vest as he chased down the leaders to secure another bronze in the T34 400m. It has been a coming of age for the fifteen year old who claimed a silver medal earlier in the week and his time of 58.29 secured a second European medal. His compatriot, Ben Rowlings (Job King) agonizingly finished outside the medals in fourth place in 58.76 despite a late surge to the line.

Towers spoke after his race about his successful debut championships; ‘I wasn’t ranked on times to finish in the medals in the 400m but today was obviously my day. My aim was always to just go out and enjoy it but to get a medal as well just adds to it. I was quite relaxed coming into the championships as I didn’t really know what to expect in my first major. It’s given me a great boost for the future and also the confidence for me to push my times down some more.’ 

Rowlings said; ‘I’m disappointed in myself there – I came into this ranked third in the field and I certainly felt like I was on form. I tied up in the last 50m but that was my fault, I put too much pressure on myself coming into it because it was my race to lose. There will be other days and other championships so better things lay ahead and I’ll go away now and prepare for next year.’

Dean Miller (Bud Baldaro) added to the ever growing medal tally on the final morning session in Swansea. Bronze was his reward in the T38 1500m as he finished in a time of 4:22.24 in a race which was dominated by Michael McKillop of Ireland. Miller said after his race:

‘It’s bittersweet because I know the silver medal was there for the taking. It was very slow, and we let Michael (McKillop) do his own thing, but Louis got me on the kick. It’s been a bit of a psychological barrier – I’ve been in the team for eight years and I’ve never been on the podium so I’ve got to thank Paula for sticking with me because it’s paying off now.’

‘It’s a tough class and obviously the Africans and Australians are still to come back in so I’m under no illusions that while I got a bronze, I’ve still got to put that work in. The support we get from British Athletics is world-class and it’s shown in our performances in Swansea.’

Jade Jones (Ian Thompson) and Shelly Woods (Jenny Archer) applied themselves impressively in the T54 1500m but they were overtaken down the home straight as they narrowly missed out on the medals in the race. Jones who recorded a time of 4:10.01 was pleased with the week and is looking forward to the upcoming years.

‘My age is a big thing because wheelchair athletes don’t really peak until late 20s/early 30s, so I have got a lot of years to go yet. For me it is now back to winter training to improve my strength. Having the likes of Manuela (Schaer) in front gives you something to aim for.’

Woods who finished a few tenths behind Jones in 4:10.61 said after:

‘I took it to them and was on the front a lot but I raced from the back last time and that didn’t work so I tried something new. I am a bit disappointed really because me and Jade clashed arms a lot in the last 200m which really affected my sprint finish but sometimes that can happen.’ 

Earlier in the day, Beverley Jones (John Parkin) narrowly missed out on a medal in the F38 discus as she was three metres down on her season best with a throw of 26.84m. Nathan Stephens (Anthony Hughes) also finished in fourth as he just missed out on a medal in the F57 discus as the Welshman finished with a best throw of 32.26m.

Robin Womack (Shaun Pickering) was ninth overall in the F53/54/55 shot put according to the Raza points scoring system as his throw of 10.00m was worth 804 points. He was disappointed with his performance on the day but was in an upbeat mood about his upcoming competitions.

‘It’s heartbreaking not to finish fourth and drop down to ninth place. I’d like to thank British Athletics for supporting me all this time, my family and my wife. Today was a little up and down, but tomorrow I want redemption in Birmingham (Sainsbury’s IPC Grand Final) and let’s win it.’