21st May 2011

Knowsley Grand Prix


21 May 2011

The first day of action from the Knowsley Disability Athletics Grand Prix saw some excellent racing from Great Britain’s top athletes facing world class opponents. However the windy conditions that befell the locality meant Paralympic  qualifying times were a challenge, although there were still some impressive performances.

David Weir (Coach: Jenny Archer) continued to emphasise his status as World number one, with a double victory against quality fields including Switzerland’s Marcel Hug and Germany’s Marc Schuh

The three-time World Champion  fresh from his fifth Virgin London Marathon victory just last month looked superlative in recording two strong wins over 800m and 400m.

Part one of his brace was early in the programme, and he sat patiently behind the early leader Hug in the T53-54 800m before taking to the front with 250m to go. Sprinting away, he crossed the line in 1:40.02 with Hug clocking 1:40.83.

Part two, later in the afternoon was over 400m and he looked in control when taking the victory ahead of World 400m bronze medallist Marc Schuh in 47.87.

“I’m pleased with that, although I wish the 800m time had been better. It’s windy and I thought Marcel might pull a bit faster, but it’s ok.

“As a marker for Switzerland next week it’s good. I feel fresh and comfortable. As long as I can keep the consistency in training I know I can perform well.”

Shelly Woods (Coach: Peter Eriksson) also lined up twice in the afternoon – first for the women’s  T53-54 800m, where she finished second to Canada’s Diane Roy with 1:55.46 – a Paralympic qualifying A standard.

She then took to the track for the women’s T53-54 400m where she finished third in 58.99 – another Paralympic A standard, albeit under-distance from her usual favoured events.

“It was windy, definitely not the best of conditions out there, but it was good to gauge where I am,” she said.

“I’m happy with that – the 400m is something I do to work on my start and my speed, and my top end speed was good there so I’m pleased with that. I’m competing in Switzerland next weekend and it’s good to know where I am ahead of that.”

Katrina Hart (Coach: Rob Ellchuk) won her T37 100m race in 14.86, well inside the Paralympic A standard and admitted the weeks since her World 200m gold medal in New Zealand in January had been busy with more than just a training regime:

“It’s good to get my first race under my belt, and it didn’t feel too bad actually,” she reflected.

“It’s been tough in recent weeks as I’ve had to hand in my final year dissertation – 20,000 words, so it’s been tough fitting everything in.”

Meanwhile, Libby Clegg (Coach: Tom Crick) opened her 2011 domestic campaign with a second place in the women’s T11-13/44 100m. The IPC World Championship gold medallist was second to four-time world champion Terezinha Aparecida Guilherhina – the race won in 12.23 to Clegg’s 12.81.

Paralympic T36 silver medallist Ben Rushgrove (Rob Ellchuk) narrowly beat compatriot Graeme Ballard in a windswept T35-38 100m. The two made contact at one stage of the race, but Rushgrove was the eventual winner just edging over the line in 12.66 to Ballard’s 12.72.

“That’s slow.” He remarked after before adding “It was windy out there and I was over-striding at one point a little bit which knocked me off balance a bit.

“The focus this year is qualifying for London. The marks we’ve been set are challenging which is good as you have to run some reasonably quick times.”

Other key results from the afternoon included:

Mickey Bushell (Fred Periac) clocked a Paralympic A standard with his third place in the men’s T53-54 100m with 14.81.

Hannah Cockroft (Peter Eriksson) had a busy afternoon, taking a T34 qualifying standard in the 100m with 19.39, in the 800m finished third with with  2:07.77  and was second in her third and final event – the 400m with 1:03.80 for second.

In the day’s final event, Ian Jones took victory over 400m with 52.87 – and a Paralympic A standard – in the T44 class, with Richard Whitehead (Liz yelling) clocking 56.50 competing as a T42 entry.

Full day 1 results can be found at www.uka.org.uk/competitions/dagp-2011