30th July 2022
JOHNBOY SMITH EARNS FIRST HOME NATIONS ATHLETICS MEDAL OF COMMONWEALTH GAMES
JohnBoy Smith (coach: Christine Parsloe, club: Sutton & District) claimed a fantastic Commonwealth Games gold medal for Team England in the men’s T53-54 marathon as the 26.2-mile races kickstarted the athletics programme at Birmingham 2022.
Sean Frame (Joyce Rammell, Red Star) and Simon Lawson (Ian Thompson, Carlisle Tri) also earned podium places for Scotland and England respectively, while Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) sealed silver in the women’s wheelchair race.
England’s Jonny Mellor (Liverpool) and Wales’s Clara Evans (Cardiff) were the top finishers for the home nations in the men’s and women’s marathons later in the morning.
Starting day two of the Commonwealth Games at 7am, the men’s T53-54 marathon field of eight took to the streets of Birmingham to contest the 26.2-mile distance.
Paralympic legend David Weir (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) led for long stages of race, but a puncture with six miles to go curtailed his efforts to seal the gold for Team England. JohnBoy Smith, who finished 10th in the Paralympic Games marathon last year, took up the lead in the closing stages, to upgrade from the silver he won at the Gold Coast four years ago, and seal his first major title.
Smith crossed the line in Centenary Square in a time of 1:41:15 while Frame was next across the line in a time of 1:45:49 to capture Scotland’s first athletics medal of the Games. Lawson matched his bronze medal winning exploits from 2018, just ten seconds back from his Scottish counterpart.
Northern Ireland’s Mark Millar pushed to a personal best of 1:58:48 for sixth, while David Weir, with a puncture, made it to the end of the race to end his campaign in seventh.
Eden Rainbow-Cooper, a former world junior medallist on the track, won silver in the women’s T53-54 marathon, clocking a PB of 1:59:45. She had only raced one marathon previously in Paris earlier this year, and she took over eight minutes off her time from that race.
With only four competitors in the field, although Shelly Oxley-Woods (Peter Wyman, Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde) crossed the line in third position, there was no bronze medal on offer. Australia’s Madison de Rozario recorded a Games record of 1:56:00 to win the gold.
In the men’s marathon, Jonny Mellor came through the race strongly to bag sixth place for England; the highest of the home nations finishers in a time of 2:15:31.
Northern Irish pair, Kevin Seaward (Andrew Hobdell, Cardiff) and Stephen Scullion (Andrew Hobdell, Cardiff) rounded out the top ten in ninth and tenth; their times 2:16:54 and 2:17:51 respectively. Welshman Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans, Swansea) was 11th in 2:17:58, while Isle of Man’s Ollie Lockley (Manx) crossed the line 14th in 2:25:52.
Clara Evans was ninth in the women’s marathon in a time of 2:38:03, with England’s Georgina Schwiening (Cambridge Runners) just outside the top ten in 11th, crossing the line in 2:40:09, just nine seconds ahead of Wales’s Natasha Cockram (Robert Hawkins, Micky Morris Racing Team). Sarah Webster, representing Isle of Man, was 14th in a time of 2:51:53.
Home Nations Medals
Gold: JohnBoy Smith [Men’s T53-54 Marathon]
Silver: Eden Rainbow-Cooper [Women’s T53-54 Marathon]
Bronze: Simon Lawson [Men’s T53-54 Marathon]
Silver: Sean Frame [Men’s T53-54 Marathon]