31st August 2021
BRONZE FOR BLANGO AND BREEN ON DAY FIVE OF TOKYO 2020
Olivia Breen claimed her second Paralympic medal nine years after her first by leaping to bronze in a thrilling long jump final, while Columba Blango won bronze at his first Games.
Records tumbled in the sand and Breen (coach: Aston Moore, club: City of Portsmouth) set the tone with a 4.91m first jump which marked a Paralympic record.
It stood for just a matter of minutes, however, as Margarita Goncharova (RPC) cleared the five-metre barrier before Luca Ekler smashed her own world record with a 5.60m leap first up.
Ekler added three centimetres to her record with her third jump to claim gold ahead of Goncharova (5.29m) while Breen’s first attempt remained her best and was enough to secure a spot on the podium.
The 25-year-old has now won Paralympic medals in two completely different disciplines, having been part of the T35-38 team who took 4x100m bronze at London 2012.
“I am over the moon with a bronze medal,” she said.
“I would have liked to have jumped over five metres but the individual medal means so much to me.
“After I landed that first jump, I knew it was going to be a great competition. I just wanted to jump for my life and show what I can do.
“This is my first individual Paralympic medal. I really wanted it in Rio but I put too much pressure on myself.
“You just have to keep driving, keep working hard and just never give up. I am more mature and I wanted to make the most of every minute of this experience. It is a dream come true.”
Hetty Bartlett (Denis Costello, City of Norwich) finished sixth with a best distance of 4.05m on her Paralympic debut.
“The whole experience was incredible,” she said.
“I opened with a foul which was annoying but I got into it after my second jump. I felt better after that once I had relaxed, so I could enjoy the competition.”
Breen was not the only British medallist in the evening session as Columba Blango (Chris Zah; Shaftesbury Barnet) finished with a flourish to claim a brilliant bronze in the T20 400m.
The East Dulwich speedster, occupying lane four, made a steady start over the first 200m before stepping on the accelerator up the home straight to record a new personal best of 47.71s, overhauling the Spanish athlete in the final 60 metres to claim a place on the podium.
France’s Charles-Antoine Kouakou, who Blango beat into second during his European Championship triumph in June, claimed gold in 47.63s ahead of Venezuela’s Luis Felipe Rodriguez Bolivar.
“For a first Paralympic final, that was very good,” said Blango, whose father represented Sierra Leone as a decathlete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
“I could see the Spanish athlete [Deliber Rodriguez Ramirez] slowing down so I just told myself, ‘you’ve got this’.
“I just kept going, I am so pleased to win a medal. This was a tough race, it was a whole different level from the heat yesterday.
“My dad always said one day I would make it and he was right. It was such a different experience to anything I had experienced before, so it is definitely a race of a lifetime.”
Shaun Burrows (Joseph McDonnell, Charnwood) came home seventh in the T38 400m final, clocking 53.25 in a race won by Mexico’s Jose Rodolfo Chessani.
“It was amazing for my first Paralympics,” said the 23-year-old. “I think I executed the race perfectly.
“My legs were a bit tired after racing another 400m yesterday. That was a new experience for me so there is plenty to learn from.”
The British medallists (11):
Andrew Small – Men’s T33 100m
Hannah Cockroft – Women’s T34 100m
Sophie Hahn – Women’s T38 100m
Thomas Young – Men’s T38 100m
Kare Adenegan – Women’s T34 100m
Harri Jenkins – Men’s T33 100m
Maria Lyle – Women’s T35 100m and 200m
Jonnie Peacock – Men’s T64 100m
Columba Blango – Men’s T20 400m
Olivia Breen – Women’s T38 Long Jump