David Weir and Daniel Greaves doubled the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team’s gold medal tally on day three of the Assen 2006 International Paralympic Association Athletics World Championships.
Weir (Velocity Wheelchair Racers) stormed to victory in the T54 400m and then Greaves retained his F44 discus title to bring Great Britain’s medal haul for yesterday to two gold, a silver and a bronze.
Weir took his first World Championship title in style, winning gold by almost a second. He also took almost half a second off the championship record, setting a new benchmark of 48.06 seconds. It was Britain’s first gold medal on the track at Assen 2006.
Weir raced away from the rest of the strong field from the start and had established an unassailable lead by the half-way mark.
“I knew with 200m to go that I had it,” he said. “The only one I was worried about was Marcel (Hug). He has the second fastest time in the world.
“I wasn’t sure how I would react from doing a hard 1500m semi this morning, but I still pulled out a 48.06,” he said. “My plan was to go out hard and maintain the speed.
“The 400m is my strongest event,” he added. “I was pretty confident, but it was a good field.”
Greaves (Loughborough Students), who only returned to throwing two weeks ago after two weeks on crutches with a left knee injury, produced two no-throws at the start of his discus competition and ran the risk of missing out on the final three rounds of throws.
But when the chips were down the Loughborough student came up with the goods, throwing 45.48m to move into second place with his third attempt. He followed that up with throws of 52.02m and 53.83m, before ending the series with a no-throw – with the gold medal already won.
Greaves paid tribute to the help he has received from the Loughborough and GB physiotherapists in the run-up to his big day.
“The physios have done an amazing job,” he said. “I was on crutches two weeks ago and a bit sceptical about what sort of shape I’d be in for the championships.
“It’s nice to be able to say I’m a twice world champion,” he added.
Silver went to Denmark’s Jacky Christiansen with 51.71m.
Teenager Elizabeth Clegg (Border Harriers AC, Edinburgh Woollen Mill AC) won silver in the T12 200m final. The 16-year-old set her second personal best of the championships to take silver behind the Ukraine’s Oxana Boturchuk.
Clegg recorded a time of 26.06 seconds – taking 0.07 seconds off the personal best she set in Sunday’s heats.
There was also an impressive bronze medal for Cardiff sprinter John McFall in the T42 200m.
McFall got off to a terrific start, but was overhauled by Germany’s Wojtek Czyz, who took gold in a championships record of 25.90. Clavel Kayitare (France) came home in second in 26.23, with McFall collecting bronze in 26.40.
He said: “I’m really happy to get a medal, but I seem to have difficulty transforming what I do in training on to the competition track.
“I ran the bend well and came into the home straight in the lead, but I tensed up a bit and lost my steam at the end.
“I’m a little disappointed though because I know I can run under 26 seconds,” he added. “I’m pleased with the bronze, but nothing beats hearing your National Anthem when you’re standing on the podium.
McFall, who now has the T42 100m to look forward to, added: “By my form over the first 120m, there’s no reason why I can’t put in a challenge for the top spot, but it’s a different race all together. This is a learning experience for me.”
Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson missed a medal in the T53 100m final by just nine-hundredths of a second. The 11-times Paralympic Games gold medal winner crossed the line in 18.30 seconds, with gold going to Jessica Galli (USA) in 18.10, while Zhou Hongzhuan (China) took silver in 18.20 and Italy’s Francesca Porcellato won bronze in 18.21 seconds.
Bev Jones (West Cheshire AC) missed out on adding to her F37 shot gold when she competed in the T37 100m final this afternoon. She finished sixth in 15.40 seconds. Sixteen-year-old team-mate Katrina Hart (Worcester AC) finished one place ahead of her in 14.97. Both have the T37 200m to come.
Sprinter Ben Rushgrove (City of Bath, TeamBath) and Graeme Ballard (Chorley AC) both made it safely through to tomorrow’s T36 200m final. Rushgrove goes through as fastest qualifier, winning his heat this morning in a personal best of 25.65 seconds.
The 18-year-old said: “I’m really pleased that was a PB. The top two next to me were just jogging so I thought I might as well up the pace and win. I’m feeling confident now ahead of the final.”
Ballard, who came second in the second heat to also qualify in 25.90 seconds, said: “That was a fantastic feeling and boosted my confidence. It was a good race and that was just what I needed.
“I’ve got energy left for the final and I’m just going to relax now ahead of that.”
Earlier in the day Weir was also on fine form winning his semi-final for the T54 1500m semi-final to qualify for the final. He maintained the lead throughout the race and powered home to cross line in 3:11.73.
But Weir’s training partner and fellow Brit Tushar Patel (Velocity WRC) failed to qualify for tomorrow’s final finishing the second semi-final in seventh place in 3:32.31.
Lloyd Upsdell (Woodford Green and Essex Ladies) was second in his T35m semi-final in 13.85 seconds to book a place in the final, while Neil Fachie (Aberdeen AAC) came third in this T13 100m semi-final in 11.40 seconds to qualify for the final.
Michael Churm (Chorley AC) was second in his T37 100m heat in 12.38 seconds to book a place in the next round, but Stephen Herbert (Cardiff AC), who was fourth in his heat in 12.67 and 16-year-old Jamie Harding (Blackheath & Bromley Harriers), who was seventh in his in 13.44, both missed out.
Shelly Woods (BWRA) finished third in her T54 800m semi in 2:03.82, but just missed out on a place in the final.
Sixteen-year-old Ian Jones (East Cheshire Harriers) was disqualified from his T44 100m semi-final after false-starting twice.