2nd June 2021
HAHN AND SKINNER PRODUCE GOLDEN DISPLAYS AT THE EUROPEAN PARA ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sophie Hahn [T38 100m] and Zak Skinner [T13 100m] both secured European titles on the second day of action at the European Para Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, adding to Maria Lyle’s [T35 200m] gold medal during the morning session.
Meanwhile, there were silver medals for Shaun Burrows [T38 400m] and Danny Sidbury [T54 1500m], and three bronze medals for Polly Maton [T47 long jump], Luke Nuttall [T46 1500m] and Alexander Thomson [T38 400m].
Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood) reigned supreme in the women’s T38 100m as she won a third consecutive European gold medal over the short sprint. The world record holder looked in solid form as she won in a time of 12.58 (0.3) ahead of Luka Ekler (HUN) and Margarita Goncharova (RUS).
Olivia Breen (Aston Moore, City of Portsmouth) ran a superb race as she clocked a personal best of 13.01 to finish in fourth position, just 0.02 seconds outside the medals, while Ali Smith (Benke Blomkvist, Guildford & Godalming) was sixth in a time of 13.46.
Hahn said afterwards, “I’m very happy and really pleased with the time. It is a quick track so I could not have asked for much more today to be honest.
“It felt incredible to be competing at a major Championships again. I was a bit nervous on the line because we’ve had nothing for a year and then all of a sudden, we are at a European Championships. So, I’m really happy I could produce that performance.”
In the men’s T13 100m, Zak Skinner (Aston Moore; Loughborough Students) won a surprise gold medal after a blistering performance. The long jumper has been working on his speed work and it certainly paid dividends on the track as the Loughborough-based athlete won his first European title.
Skinner got out of the blocks well and the second half of his race was a masterclass as he moved away from his French opponent, Axel Zorzi, who was the fastest qualifier for the final over the heats earlier in the day.
An animated Skinner said post-race, “I came into these Championships hoping for a medal in the 100m, and then this happened. I felt good out there and I had to execute the race and I knew the gold was there for the taking. I didn’t think that it would actually happen! I felt so good but then I could feel someone on the inside lane, and I was thinking ‘don’t tense’, but every time I thought that there was more tensing.
“A massive thanks to the team and my family, we have worked so hard for this. Every step of the way they have been there, and I am so grateful for them. It makes all so worth it.
“I’m really excited for the long jump. I was scared on that start line, I might not look it, but I was so nervous. If I mess up once in the long jump, I get five more attempts but out in the 100m you are not getting anything back.”
Six years after last representing the British team at the World Championships in Doha, Shaun Burrows (Joe McDonnell; Charnwood) returned to the fold in the men’s T38 400m by winning silver in the men’s T38 400, while Alexander Thomson (Chris Baillie; Victoria Park City of Glasgow) secured the bronze, with Ross Paterson (John Kinder; Red Star) fourth; all three athletes securing personal bests.
Burrows sliced 0.42 seconds off his previous best in an excellent time of 53.02 while Thomson improved his previous best to 54.66 for bronze on his senior international debut. Paterson fought well and also recorded a lifetime best of 55.60.
Burrows said, “I am happy to have run a PB, 53.02. That is a very good time for me. To win the silver medal as well is good, I am happy with my performance today.”
Thomson added, “I didn’t know what to expect today, I just ran my best. The first 200m I felt pretty good, and I was just trying to keep that momentum going through 200m to 300m. The last 100m was all about holding my form but I died a bit. I am so happy to win a bronze medal.”
On his maiden appearance in a British vest, Daniel Sidbury (Christine Parsloe; Sutton & District) clinched the silver medal in the men’s T54 1500m. As multiple Paralympic champion Marcel Hug (SUI) moved away from the field on the opening lap, it was left for the rest of the field to battle for silver and bronze, and the Briton was at the heart of the fight.
Sidbury positioned himself well on the penultimate lap as he led the chasing pack with the inside line. As the metres counted down, the Sutton & District athlete maintained his position and secured a trip to the podium to collect his European silver medal.
“I am pleased to be able to contribute to the British team at these Championships,” he said post-race, adding, “The race feels like a blur. Marcel (Hug) obviously went off and I did think whether I should make a break to go and catch him, but the others didn’t seem to want to do that and work as a group, so I stuck with them. But I’m really pleased to win the silver medal.”
After an injury-disrupted couple of seasons, Polly Maton (Colin Baross; Team Devizes) returned to form in the women’s T47 Long Jump as she won the bronze medal on her final jump, which matched her personal best.
In the opening round she jumped 5.27m which was just one centimetre off her personal best. That jump left her in third position after one round for the field, but she was moved down to fourth in round two.
On the final jump, the Briton sat in fourth position, however the world silver medallist is renowned for producing her best under pressure and she delivered once again as she went out to 5.28m to move into bronze by 1cm to match her achievement from 2018.
Maton said afterwards, “I’m thrilled! It equals my PB. I’ve had some nasty injuries over the last two years, one to my left foot, one to my right foot. I loved competing again today – it was an entertaining competition which is exciting for me and everyone watching.
“I seem to make a habit of leaving it to my last jump. It did that in the worlds in 2017 too. I was in fourth and had to jump big to get in the medals. I obviously like doing it that way, I enjoy the pressure of competitions!”
Luke Nuttall (Alison Wyeth; Charnwood) produced the best performance of his young career as he claimed bronze in the T46 1500m with a seven second lifetime best.
Two years ago, Nuttall won silver on his debut at the Europeans in Berlin, and the Charnwood athlete was in supreme form as he crossed the line in 3:55.27, just a few strides behind the best in Europe.
The 19-year-old said, “Coming into the Champs, I didn’t know how the race would be run. The Russian guy took it at a fair pace, and I got dragged around. I’m buzzing with that – a seven second PB, I’m well happy.
“I know I’ve been training really well but I’ve run 4:06 in my first two races of the season, so to go 11 seconds quicker that than is crazy. I’m buzzing to get the bronze medal as well which is why you come to these Championships.”
In the women’s T20 1500m Hannah Taunton (Charlotte Fisher; Taunton) put in a valiant effort as she finished fourth overall in a time of 4:47.33.
She set a T20 world record at the Muller British Athletics Championships in 2020, and performed strongly at her first Europeans, positioning herself well in the field. The leading three opened up a gap on the Taunton athlete with 300 metres to go, a margin that kept extending but the British athlete earned her top four slot.
At his second European Para Athletics Championships, Javaughn Parkes (Michelle Nicholas; Birchfield) narrowly missed out on a medal and ran a season best of 12.76 (0.1) for fourth position in the T36 100m. Roman Pavlyk from Ukraine pipped the Birchfield athlete by 0.06 seconds to the bronze medal placing, but it was a solid improvement by Parkes who was fifth three years ago.
Competing in a strong field in the women’s T54 1500m, Mel Woods (Rodger Harkins; Red Star) was fifth in a time of 3:43.61. Having improved her best to 3:30.10 in Arbon, Switzerland recently, this was another high-quality field and top performance for the Scottish athlete.
During the morning session, Maria Lyle (Jamie Bowie, Team East Lothian) secured her third European T35 200m title as she won in a Championship record of 30.75 (-3.4)
British medallists (11):
Gold (4): Columba Blango [Men’s T20 400m], Sophie Hahn [Women’s T38 100m], Maria Lyle [Women’s T35 200m], Zak Skinner [Men’s T13 100m]
Silver (3): Shaun Burrows [Men’s T38 400m], Kyron Duke [Men’s F41 Shot Put], Danny Sidbury [Men’s T54 1500m]
Bronze (4): Ola Abidogun [Men’s T47 100m], Luke Nuttall [Men’s T46 1500m], Emily Stewart [Women’s F38 Discus], Alexander Thomson [Men’s T38 400m]