17th July 2017


After playing spectator to a host of British gold medals over the past three days, Olivia Breen (coach: Aston Moore) claimed one all of her own in this morning’s session at the World Para Athletics Championships in London.

Clearly intent on leaving her mark on the championships, Breen dominated proceedings in emphatic style, opening up with 4.61m before sailing out to 4.72m in round three, a personal best at that point by 2cm.

With thoughts of the runway in Rio long banished, and with the backing track of thousands of screaming schoolchildren, round four saw a huge leap of 4.81m, a jump which distanced her from the rest of the field with two rounds to spare and all but secure the win.

“I have been jumping really well this year and it really has been my best season ever,” said Breen.

“I knew what I needed to do, and I’ve put all the hard work in so I was just telling myself to get the job done. I knew I had it in me to win gold; I always give 100% so I am over the moon to do it; it has all come together at the right time.”

“My family and friends are here today so it is amazing to share this moment with them. I want to say a big thank you to my coach Aston Moore who has been amazing and helped me improve my jumping – the other coaches I’ve worked with were great and really pushed me on too.”

In the F34 Shot, Vanessa Wallace (Alison O’Riordan) will reflect the experience of her first world championships knowing she gave everything in pursuit of a rostrum spot.

Up first in the throwing order, Wallace hauled 7.63m with her very first throw, a personal best by 7cm. Throws of 6.92m and 7.09m would follow to leave her heading up the table with the rest of the competitors to follow.

Come her second series of throws, and knocked down to bronze, Wallace picked up exactly where she left off in her first series. Looking confident and powerful, throws four and five yielded 7.37m and 7.56m respectively, before a final mark of 7.64m, another personal best, left her waiting on what others could produce.

Unfortunately, what unfolded from the rest of the competition left Wallace just shy of the medals, with New Zealand’s Jessica Hamill good for bronze with 7.77m.

ON the experience, Wallace said: “Honestly, that was amazing. I went out like a rocket to the point I had to double-check the distance from my first throw; I didn’t think I could throw that far yet!

“I think I spent myself on that first one so two and three weren’t great, but then in my second series I managed to nudge my PB again, so I’m so happy.

“Alison O’Riordan (coach): you rock; you keep moving me forward and I’m so excited to see what happens next. To all of my team, I’m so grateful.”
In similar fashion, and after a brilliant series of jumps on her British debut, Martina Barber (Paddy O’Shea) narrowly missed out on becoming a global medallist in the T20 long jump.

In a competition which saw all six of the 12 competitors set lifetime bests – with Barber also getting in on the act – the Stevenage & North Herts athlete rolled out some solid marks in the early rounds with jumps in the 4.90m region.

Rounds five and six saw great form on the board bring marks of 5.17m and 5.16m – the former a personal best by 7cm and elevating her into bronze for the round before Portugal’s eventual third placer Ana Filipe leapt 5.26m.

Post-competition she said: “It was really good; I was happy with the personal best. The crowd were so loud, and I’ve never competed in front of anything like that so I didn’t know if it would put me off. But it didn’t; I just focused and it all went well.”

“I am really confident for the future as this was my first world championships, so hopefully there will be more personal bests to come.”

Another of the stories of this morning’s session was Sophie Kamlish’s (Rob Ellchuk) stunning run in heat one of the T44 100m preliminary round.

Having broken the T44 world record in the heats at last year’s Paralympic Games, Kamlish ensured the narrative was the same this time around with a blistering run to clock 12.90, a personal best by three hundredths of a second and the quickest time in qualifying by some margin.

The time will no doubt keep many intrigued as to what she can produce this evening when she lines up in the final at 20:30, and afterwards she said: “I made the conscious effort to slow down at the end because I couldn’t see anyone behind me. So I wasn’t expecting to break my world record at all. It shows that if I can push it to the line in the final I can do it.

“Tonight I think it’s all about staying relaxed because I’m likely to get a better start than most people being a ‘44 . It’s a case of just relaxing.”

In a heat which saw Marlou van Rhijn and Nyoshia Cain share victory in 13.21 after a late surge from the former, Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) produced the goods with 13.42 for third and automatic qualification through to this evening’s final alongside Kamlish.

Featuring Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks) and Nathan Maguire (Steven Hoskins), heats one and two of the men’s T54 1500m bought mixed fortunes for the British pair.

Pushing in heat one, Chiassaro led out the race for the opening proceedings in serene fashion. At the bell the expected surge came from all angles, with Chiassaro keeping his cool and pushing strongly to the line for third; the clocking of 1:36.49 sufficient to book a spot in this evening’s final.

For Maguire, a slower heat accompanied by a speedy final 400m saw the good work done in the previous 1100m undone as he was passed by many of the quick finishers in the field on the back straight. Finishing sixth in 1:39.61, he will now look to go well in the heats of the T54 200m tomorrow morning.

T42 100m qualifying saw Richard Whitehead (Keith Antoine) the form that won him the 200m on Saturday evening once again as he pulled through strongly for victory in 12.35.

In heat two, David Henson (Roger Keller), running from lane two once again, endured a slower start than the rest of the field, something he revealed was due to his bladed leg becoming loose, with a season’s best of 13.27 unfortunately not enough to see him progress to this evening’s final.

“It wasn’t the best performance – I time myself in training and I know what kind of form I’m in so that was bitterly disappointing,” said Henson.

“I had a technical problem with my prosthetic: within the first 20m of my race I realised that, and though the excuses come freely, I know that’s something I should’ve picked up on.

“It is what it is, I ran a decent time in the circumstances, and I’ve come away from this experience with a medal and a lot of lessons learnt.

“Running here is incredible, I’m a little bit jealous of other athletes who are yet to compete now.”

British Athletics medallists at the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017:

Gold (9):
Hollie Arnold – F46 Javelin
Olivia Breen – T38 Long Jump
Hannah Cockroft – T34 100m
Aled Davies – F42 Discus
Sophie Hahn – T38 200m
Sammi Kinghorn – T53 100m
Jonnie Peacock – T44 100m
Stef Reid – T44 Long Jump
Richard Whitehead – T42 200m

Silver (2):
Kare Adenegan – T34 100m
Toby Gold – T33 100m

Bronze (5):
Kadeena Cox – T38 200m
David Henson – T42 200m
Maria Lyle – T35 200m
Gemma Prescott – F32 Club Throw
Andrew Small – T33 100m

The timetable for the World Para Athletics Championships can be found here.