22nd July 2017
HAHN ON FIRE AS HERMITAGE AND DAVIES COMPLETE THE DOUBLE
Exactly a week on from breaking the world record for gold in the T38 200m final, Sophie Hahn (coach: Joe McDonnell) ensured the narrative was much the same as she lit up the London Stadium once again with an emphatic victory over 100m at the World Para Athletics Championships in London.
Joining Hahn in producing phenomenal feats of athleticism, marks of 17.52m and 13.36 (-0.7 m/s) respectively saw Aled Davies (Ryan Spencer-Jones) and Georgie Hermitage (Paul Macgregor) – the former a world record and the latter a championship record – claim gold this evening, their second titles at the championships.
Accompanied by silver from Kadeena Cox (Brian Scobie) in the T38 100m, tonight’s medal wins saw the British medal tally rise to 35 ahead of tomorrow’s final day of action.
The first Britons of the night to take to the track, the trio of Hahn, Cox and Olivia Breen (Aston Moore), lining up in lanes five, seven and three respectively, were presented with far from ideal conditions for sprinting following a heavy downpour this afternoon.
Not fazed by the sodden track, each athlete soaked in the roars from the biggest crowd of the championships so far before settling into the blocks.
Out quickest, Hahn’s near-perfect start saw her gain the early advantage on the field as she roared away after driving out of the blocks. As her head came up and the arms pumped, the gap between her and those on her shoulder grew, with the reputation of the London Stadium being a quick track proving to be the case once again as she blitzed away to stop the clock at 12.44 (+0.6), a revision of her own world record.
Behind Hahn, and already a world 400m champion and 200m bronze medallist at these championships, Cox ensured she’ll be travelling back up north with the complete set of gold, silver and bronze as a posting of 13.07, a season’s best, saw her claim the second highest step on the podium, the time also a season’s best, some feat following struggles with injury this season.
Post-race Hahn, now a two-time world champion, said: “When I crossed the line today I glanced across at the clock and when I saw 12.4 I thought it was pretty amazing.
“It’s incredible here, it’s a great stadium and a fast track and it really helps you.”
On how fast she could possibly go in future, she added: “I’d like to go 12.3, 12.2 but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.”
For Cox, the result she was one she was delighted with as she said: “I knew that Sophie was the favourite for the gold and I wanted to get the 1-2-3 of gold, silver and bronze here and I did it.
“I just tried to just keep working. I could feel the German girl and Olivia (Breen) coming through and I thought ‘no, that’s not happening’. I am really happy that I could finish it off.”
Denying the home crowd a British 1-2-3, a lifetime best from Germany’s Lindy Ave saw her do enough to hold off an impressive run from Olivia Breen as she settled for fourth following a fantastic championships which saw her take gold in the T38 long jump.
Reflecting on the race, she said: “It was good. I had a good start but it could have been better. Obviously, being deaf, it’s a bit of a thing (the noise). I am really happy with how I ran. I was relaxed. My coach said: ‘Don’t tense up, just take it in your stride’. And I did that so I can’t really complain. I am happy with how I ran, but it’s a shame about the time, though.
“The crowd were amazing. I was here in 2012 and it’s great to be back and great to have such fantastic support.”
Stepping back on the track for the second time today following a successful navigation of her heat earlier today in a season’s best time of 13.61, Georgie Hermitage settled into the lane six’s blocks for the final of the T37 100m, an event she won last year in Rio following silver at 2015’s world championships.
With stiff opposition coming from the ever-improving Kobzar of Ukraine, Hermitage’s start and drive phase would be key. Although not as smooth as she would have liked, last year’s two-time Paralympic champion moved through the gears efficiently to enter the 50m mark in a good position.
With her speed increasing she began to build and grow daylight out in front, with the result never in doubt by 80m as the gap sat at around five metres on Kobzar, who ran a personal best for silver. With the noise of the crowd accompanying Hermitage’s fist pump on the line for gold, her second of these championships and one better than the silver she managed in Doha back in 2015.
“I am relieved that it’s all over. I know that sounds like an awful thing to say but coming into this Championships the preparation wasn’t ideal,” she confessed afterwards.
“That race – I didn’t execute it well enough. The hold was very long and my start was not great. Hence the Ukrainian was on my tail but I do feel with 30m to go that I was pulling away and taking the win is enough tonight.”
“It takes me a while to get going. That’s why I am a better 400m runner, I need the time to get going and in the short stuff, if you don’t nail it at the start it’s really tough.”
Now a familiar sight to see acronyms denoting huge throws next to his name on results pages, F42 throws specialist Aled Davies (Ryan Spencer-Jones) took to the throwing circle aiming to become a triple-triple world champion on the back of gold in the F42 Discus last Sunday morning.
The world record holder for both of his events, it would only take two throws for Davies to leave his mark on the event and leave the crowd in awe. Opening up with 16.02m, a modest mark by his standards, the commanding Welshman would unleash something truly special in round two to shut down the competition.
Completely focused as he entered the circle, Davies span beautifully to unleash a monster throw of 17.52m, his longest ever throw and 12cm further than the unratified world record thrown back in April in Arizona.
Four fouls would follow, but the margin of victory – over three metres – would speak volumes on how the work done over the hard winter period has blossomed into something special for the now triple-triple world champion.
“No offence to Rio, but this, for me, was bigger than Rio,” he admitted.
“I told my coach at the start of the year that I wanted to throw a PB and a world record and win gold in front of the home crowd, and I did it.
“As soon as that second throw left my fingers I knew that I’d done it. I’ve been working so hard and I am so happy to be able to throw a world record. Everyone knows how hard I’ve worked. “
Making his senior debut in a British vest, Stevenage & North Herts athlete Jack Gladman (Andy Coleman) took to the start line for the final of the T38 1500m as the Briton-heavy evening continued.
Having clocked personal best times over both 800m and 1500m this year, the youngster faced the toughest test of his career to date as a straight-final saw him pitted against some lightning-quick international stars of the sport.
With the opening 1200m averaging around 66 seconds per lap, the debutant did all he could to cling on, but the leading pace of eventual race-winner Deon Kenzie saw the field strung out to leave Gladman chasing ground.
Working hard to finish strongly, Gladman claimed ninth place in 4:32.73, less than four tenths of a second off his best and a commendable run.
In awe of the experience, he said: “I have just run at the world championships, I can’t believe what has happened.”
“My laces came untied in the first 50m and I thought that it was all about to turn from my dream race to my worst nightmare, but I gave it everything and I am in the top 10 in the world; amazing.
“These people are the best fans in the world without a doubt. I should have been part of that atmosphere. I bought a ticket: that’s how much I didn’t think I would be here. My Nan is sitting in the seat that I should have had. This is insane.”
In good form this year following a personal best over 200m at 38 years-old, Graeme Ballard (Trevor Painter) entered the field of play for the final time at these championships to contest the T36 100m.
After dusting himself off after 400m disappointment yesterday, Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk), competing in something of a foreign event for him, also joined Ballard on the start line after safe passage from the preliminary stages this morning.
In lanes three and five, both would get out reasonably well, with Ballard pushing on a little quicker than Blake to enter the mid-way mark well in contention for bronze. As China’s Yifei Yang streaked away for gold in a red-hot 11.93, Ballard found himself swallowed up by those either side of him, while Blake began to feel the effects of racing regularly over the last seven days.
Posting 12.55 (+0.6) and 12.59, the British duo would take fourth and sixth respectively; a solid result for Wigan & District athlete and also noteworthy for Blake, a middle-distance athlete by trade.
“I gave it my best shot but at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough,” said Ballard.
“The race went as good as it could have done. At the start I couldn’t hear the start, that’s why I put my hand up, and the atmosphere was amazing.”
Breaking down his race-plan, Blake said: “I was just trying to get out and focus on my run and how I was going to execute the start. I think I did that but I think there were some really strong sprinters in the race and I just did what I could to keep in touch with them.”
“I would have loved to medal in it; I’ve trained really hard to be here and I’ve medalled before when I’ve trained like that. Not to medal here: that’s a learning curve in itself.”
After a gun to tape victory in heat one of the T20 800m preliminary rounds, Steve Morris (James Thie) headed up a field of eight for what was expected to be a highly entertaining final, particularly with five athletes on the start line having gone sub-1:58 in their careers.
Joined by compatriot James Hamilton (Mark Kirk) following a superb 1:59.40 lifetime best showing in heat two yesterday for third place and automatic qualification, Morris chose to trust in his favoured tactic of front running as he chased a podium place for the first time.
Leading the pack through half-way in a swift 55.72, with Hamilton also going well despite later admitting to carrying heavy legs, Morrison would come unstuck with around 200m to go as the USA’s impressive Michael Brannigan led an overtake assault which also included Spaniard Rodriguez and Jaciuk of Poland, all of whom had the legs to go by the Welshman on the final bend.
Fighting all the way to haul a minor medal position back, Morrison didn’t quite have the legs or the pick-up speed to do so as Yuki Uemura also passed him to punch fourth, leaving he and Hamilton to take fifth and sixth in 1:59.65 and 2:00.24.
“I have got to go away and work hard next year just to finish in the top three; it’s getting closer every time,” said a reflective Morris.
“My finishing has been lacking this last two years but this has been a good progression ahead of Tokyo.”
For Hamilton, the time, his fifth fastest ever, appears even better following feelings of weariness after yesterday’s triumph: “My legs felt heavy and tired tonight and it was a slightly faster pace in the first lap but I tried my best and tried to hang in there and I made it to the finish.
“I feel reasonably good with it. It was a good learning experience. I’d just like to thank British Athletics and Athletics Northern Ireland, and my coach Mark for getting me here in my first World Champs; it’s been a fantastic experience.”
British Athletics medallists (35) at the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017:
Hollie Arnold – F46 Javelin
Olivia Breen – T38 Long Jump
Hannah Cockroft – T34 100m, 400m, 800m
Kadeena Cox – T38 400m
Aled Davies – F42 Discus, Shot Put
Sophie Hahn – T38 100m, 200m
Georgie Hermitage – T37 100m, 400m
Sophie Kamlish – T44 100m
Sammi Kinghorn – T53 200m
Jonnie Peacock – T44 100m
Stef Reid – T44 Long Jump
Richard Whitehead – T42 200m
Kare Adenegan – T34 100m
Jonathan Broom-Edwards – T44 High Jump
Kadeena Cox – T38 100m
Kyron Duke – F41 Shot
Toby Gold – T33 100m
Kare Adenegan – T34 400m, 800m
Richard Chiassaro – T54 400m
Kadeena Cox – T38 200m
David Henson – T42 200m
Sammi Kinghorn – T53 400m
Maria Lyle – T35 100, 200m
Stephen Miller – F32 Club Throw
Gemma Prescott – F32 Club Throw
Andrew Small – T33 100m
Isaac Towers – T34 800m
Richard Whitehead – T42 100m