15th July 2023
FOURTH PLACES FOR NICHOLSON AND ODUWAIYE ON DAY 7 OF THE WORLD PARAS
Throwers Anna Nicholson (coach: Richard Kaufman, club: Gateshead) and Funmi Oduwaiye (Josh Clark, Cardiff & The Vale Schs) secured brilliant fourth-place finishes in the F64 and F35 Shot Put respectively on day seven of the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, France.
The last of the trio of British athletes in finals action this morning, Anna Nicholson took to the field in the F35 Shot Put harbouring hopes of going one better than the fourth-place finish achieved at the 2019 World Championships.
Those ambitions were channelled into a remarkable round one lifetime best throw of 8.67m, adding 2cm to her previous best. That mark was good to settle Nicholson in for fourth, with more distance needed to chase down the athlete sat in bronze above her, Dilafruzkhon Akhmatkhonova of Uzbekistan.
Nicholson laid down 8.41m in round two before finding another 8.58m with her third attempt. Marks of 8.36m and 8.38m would follow before Nicholson closed out with 7.96m in the sixth and final round of a consistent and career-best showing in the event for a world championships fourth place finish once again.
Post-competition, Nicholson said: “I think looking back I’ll be ecstatic with it; right now, it’s still a little bit sore because I could have definitely got that third-place distance. Training has been going really well coming in to the championships, but it just didn’t happen in the six throws that I had. Still – to get a personal best – I’m really happy with that. The last couple of years have been really difficult so to come out here and come fourth again, I’m really happy
“Getting a PB in the first round I was so happy after that, but you have to try and calm and relax ready for your next throws. I knew that on my PB throw there were a few things that would make it go much further, so I was just trying to work on that. You’ve got six attempts but you’re out there quite a while, with about 10 minutes between each throw, so it’s trying to keep yourself in that zone. It’s difficult, but I think all bar the last throw were pretty good throws so I was happy that I managed to keep it up there – that big one’s coming though.
“Next year’s going to be a massive year as well, trying to peak twice for the next World Championships then the Paralympic Games, but I’ve got a good set up now and we know what we’re doing, so if we can try and replicate that next year then we’ve two really good chances.”
Competing in a British vest for the first ever time this week, Oduwaiye’s produced the sprinting equivalent of firing out of the blocks, with a first attempt of 10.69m putting her firmly in the medal mix from the get-go.
Fouls followed in rounds two and three, before a valid 10.15m reaffirmed her standing within the top six and among those athletes pushing out to over ten metres. Unable to produce legal throws with her final two attempts, Oduwaiye’s round one best left her short of the medals by just 14cm, but was, however, good enough for an outstanding fourth place finish.
Reflecting on her performance and a maiden world championships appearance, Oduwaiye said: “It was a very tough one, some people came out of nowhere as well – but I guess that’s what to expect. I’m a bit disappointed in myself, in the way I performed – I can’t lie. But I leave it all in God’s hands that the next Worlds are less than a year away, so I just need to get back to work really.
“For me it’s either a good day or a bad day – or I have a medium day and then just get a throw in the last minute. So, I guess today was a bad day, but you can’t dwell on it – you have to move on to the next. It was my first world championships and I came fourth – there was a lot of pressure.
“I’ve just been doing this for a year and look how far I’ve come. Another year on top of that [to the Paralympic Games] – let’s see where I can get to. It’s a bit disappointing but I congratulate the top three that did really well.”
Joining Oduwaiye as a British worlds debutant was Barney Corrall (Aston Moore, Charnwood) who took to the runway in the T37 long jump.
Opening up with a solid 5.66m (+0.4) to get a mark on the board, a mark just 7cm off his personal best coming into the Championships, Corrall sat in sixth as the field reduced down to eight for the final three rounds.
Following up with 5.47m (-0.9) in round four, the 23-year-old then leapt to 5.55m (-1.3) with his penultimate jump. Rounding off his series with 5.51m (-1.1), Corrall stepped off the track with an impressive sixth-place finish under his belt and much to target globally in the years to come.
On his performance and the experience he hopes to take, Corrall said: “When I look back on Europeans  where I went out after three fouls, that was really hard, so getting the first jump in today was amazing. It just settled the nerves a bit. Overall, I am happy with it, it just makes me hungrier to come back for more next year. I’m so ready for the challenges ahead. I want to be fighting for medals, not just going sixth, fifth, fourth.
“The biggest learning experience for me today was that I need to enjoy it. During the middle of the competition I got a bit stressed because I wasn’t jumping so good but you need to zone back in and relax, because only then will you jump better.
In qualifying action, Mel Woods (Rodger Harkins, Red Star) missed out on a spot in this evening’s T54 400m final following a fourth-place finish in her heat.
With the first two athletes in each heat automatically qualifying, followed by the next two fastest from all three heats put together, Woods had her work cut out against some global heavyweights of track racing.
Pushing out from lane five, Woods made up the ground lost on the back straight, coming through strongly off the 200m bend to move into fourth. Pushing hard down the home straight and with an eye on the clock, Woods crossed the line in 57.16, sadly not enough to see her progress.
“It was a tough heat – I knew it was always going to be super-fast, so I had to go out there and do my best to have any chance of qualifying, and I wasn’t quite at my best today,” said Woods.
“I come here and I want to be competitive and I guess there’s still a lot I’ve got to learn; I realise that every time I come up against these girls. It’s just a case of chipping away and figuring out how to get better each and every year.”
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medallists:
GOLD:  Gavin Drysdale [Men’s T72 100m], Jonathan Broom-Edwards [Men’s T64 high jump], Sabrina Fortune [Women’s F20 shot put], Hollie Arnold [Women’s F46 javelin], Hannah Cockroft [Women’s T34 100m], Sammi Kinghorn [Women’s T53 100m]
SILVER:  Rafi Solaiman [Men’s T72 100m], Sammi Kinghorn [Women’s T53 800m], Kare Adenegan [Women’s T34 100m], Olivia Breen [Women’s T38 long jump]
BRONZE:  Zac Shaw [Men’s T12 100m], Danny Sidbury [Men’s T54 5000m], Maria Lyle [Women’s T35 200m], Sophie Hahn [Women’s T38 100m, Women’s T38 200m], Fabienne André [Women’s T34 100m
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