19 August 2014
GB & NI’s campaign at the IPC European Championships got off to a flying start, as the team captained by Mikail Huggins claimed 15 medals on day one in Swansea.
It was Sammi Kinghorn (coach: Ian Mirfin), who took her senior GB & NI debut in her stride, as the 18 year old claimed the team’s first gold medal in the T53 400m, before going on to repeat the feat in the T53 100m.
Kinghorn, who was a part of the Scotland team at the Commonwealth Games was understandably delighted by her performance on a windy day at Swansea University.
“You don’t know what to expect when you go out on the track so to win the gold is pretty awesome. This year has been absolutely incredible and I’m over the moon to come away with two gold medals.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with the likes of Hannah (Cockroft) and all the big names are so down to earth even though they’re gold medallists. To see myself on that level is pretty scary.”
Jonnie Peacock (Steve Fudge) and Hannah Cockroft (Jenni Banks) added European titles to their Paralympic and World gold medals winning the T44 100m and T34 100m respectively.
Despite the blustery conditions, Peacock came through in a time of 11.26 and will now look to continue his form into the Sainsbury’s IPC Grand Prix Final, where he will face his main rival USA’s Richard Browne.
Peacock said: “It's a nice relief to win. I did feel a little bit of pressure coming here. I was strong favourite and everyone kept telling me that so I had to come into this race and just execute it
“It wasn't going to be a rapid time, the conditions didn't favour that unfortunately. You are losing at least two tenths just with the wind so it's difficult but it's about medals at these championships and to come at win in the GB & NI vest is special. You just want to do your thing for the team and get the gold.
“I'm competing in Birmingham next so I'll be aiming for good times at the end of the season. I'll face Richard Browne and it's going to be tough as he's run some really fast times this year but I'll give it my all and see what happens,” added Peacock, who’s a part of the GB & NI team sponsored by Sainsbury’s.
Cockroft also completed her medal collection, with teammate Mel Nicholls (Job King) taking a surprise bronze to complete a memorable day for ‘The Hurricane,’ who will also compete in the 800m on Friday.
“I’m glad that I’ve got all three titles under my belt now, I just have to defend them now, so the pressure is on. The challenge now is the 800m on Friday now, a title that I really want, and there’s no reason why I can’t win it, so fingers crossed I can do the double again,” Cockroft said.
I’m so proud of Mel (Nicholls) – she didn’t expect it, so I don’t think I did either. She really talked herself down and sometimes I get mad at her for doing that. For us both to sit on that podium it’s going to be amazing.”
GB & NI stalwart Stephen Miller (Ros Miller) continued to roll back the years claiming silver in the F32 club throw with a distance of 30.68, while Thomas Green (Kenneth Green) just missed out on the medals finishing in fourth place.
“It was decent – I wanted a bit more. The wind was going all over the place but I’m pretty happy with that, I can’t complain about it too much. I felt really good going into the competition and I’m happy to get the silver medal. It’s the first major medal I’ve won for two years so it’s pretty good for confidence. I wanted to win my fourth European title in a row, so to come second is a bit gutting.”
Rob Smith (Jenni Banks) won silver in the T52 1500m clocking a time of 4:44.20, with Kieran Tscherniawsky (Jim Edwards) missing out on the gold medal on the final throw from Germany’s Daniel Scheil.
Graeme ‘The Bullet’ Ballard (Tabo Huntley) upgraded on the bronze he won at the IPC European Championships in 2012 with silver in the T36 100m, while Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk) dropped down the distances to claim a brilliant bronze.
The Welsh quartet of Jordan Howe (Keith Antoine) (T35 100m), Rhys Jones (Antoine) (T37 100m), Bradley Wigley (Jane Coia) (T38 100m) and Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) (T44 100m) all delivered bronze medals for the triumphant GB & NI team.
Sugar said: “I'm chuffed - last year there was no expectation. I knew I was prepared and a PB was in there even with a -2.2 but I'm delighted with the race today. It's nice to bring back a medal.
“The next two years are going to be tough - the fields are really strong in the T43/44 and there are few of us around the same time with two way ahead of the field but that medal is up for grabs in the future. The T44 is really strong in its depth so I've got to keep training hard and keep getting faster.”
Mo Jomni (Jenny Archer) claimed the team’s final medal for the team on day one to complete a 15 medal haul in the T53 800m.
Despite suffering from illness Libby Clegg (Antoine) and guide runner Mikail Huggins successfully navigated their way through to the T12 100m final qualifying as a fastest loser.
You can watch a live stream of the IPC Athletics European Championships (19-23 August) on the IPC YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ParalympicSportTV and the afternoon session will be live on More4 from 15.35.