28 June 2012
There were two silver medals - for Hollie Arnold (coach: Anthony Hughes) and Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk) - and two bronze medals for the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team on the final day of action at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Stadskanaal, Holland (24-28 June), taking the final medal total to 28.
Arnold, who made her Paralympic Games debut as a 14-year-old in Beijing 2008, has progressed significantly in the past 12 months in the F46 javelin, exceeding 35m for the first time and recording a new lifetime best of 35.88m at the Welsh National Championships in early June. She threw 35.54m today for silver: “Now that I’ve passed 35m I’ve got a new target of 36m, so I’m disappointed not to achieve that, but I know what I need to do to improve,” said the IPC World Championships bronze medallist.
“I’ve recently changed my run up and it was a good opportunity to come out here and give it a go. I’ve definitely come a long way, but I want more.”
Nataliya Gudkova of Russia took the title with a 38.46m effort.
IPC World 400m Champion Blake has had a tough week but has once again been consistently impressive; he finished third in the T36 800m behind Russian duo Evgenii Shvetov - who clocked a new World Record - and World Champion Artem Arefyev a few days ago and he faced them again in today’s T36 400m final.
On this occasion, however, Blake changed his tactics and it paid off as he split the pair to take silver in 55.30, just outside his personal best, behind winner Shvetcov, a triple gold medallist at this Championship, in 54.93.
“The plan was to let Artem (Arefyev, who eventually finished third) lead,” he explained; “he would have expected me to take it out as I usually do, so I let him lead to 200m and I kicked off the bend into the home straight.
“It would have been nice to win, but I’m happy with my performances over the course of the week. It’s been a great opportunity to come out and race against my main competitors and I’m happy overall.”
Two-time Paralympian Claire Williams (Jim Edwards) won the first medal of her career when she took bronze in the F11/12 discus.
Williams, who has a 43.15m best with the 1km implement, threw 36.20m (836 points) for third and although disappointed not to throw further, was upbeat after a consistent series in a strong field that included her biggest rivals.
“I’ve not been great on consistency this season so it’s something I’ve been working on,” she said; “but because of that, I’ve had to step back off the intensity a bit and I think that’s what was missing today.
“I’m really happy to win a medal and if someone had offered me that before the competition I’d have taken it, but I wish I could have gone closer to my PB. It’s my best series for a while though and I’ve got time to go back now and work on the intensity of my throws.
“Most of the girls out there today threw close to their bests while I was a bit off mine, but when it all comes together I know I can come back and win gold.”
Bulgaria’s Tamara Sivakova won the title with a best distance of 36.90 (852 points).
In the men’s F40 shot putt, Kyron Duke (Anthony Hughes) - bronze medallist in the javelin - once again finished third in an event won by Paschalis Stathelikos (Greece) in a new World Record of 13.01m.
Duke was outside his own lifetime best with 10.73m, but it was his third best effort ever, in what is admittedly his number two event.
“This has been a really important stepping stone for us,” said acting-Aviva GB & NI Team Leader Paula Dunn.
“In contrast to a lot of events we compete in, this week wasn't just about winning medals, it was about taking opportunities and using them for maximum benefit. For some of the athletes, such as 15-year-old Olivia Breen who was making her debut, it was a learning experience and she did brilliantly. For others it was about putting a marker down and building confidence before the Paralympic Games.
“Overall we've enjoyed successful Championships with one World Record, several personal best performances and 28 medals in total. Now we can get back into some solid training and prepare for London which is just two months away.”
Full results can be found on the live event site.
Videos featuring Aviva GB & NI athletes can be found on Paralympic Sport TV courtesy of the IPC.
Photo: © Marcus Hartmann: www.photo-harmann.de