14th July 2023
KINGHORN STORMS TO T53 100M WORLD TITLE ON ANOTHER GOLDEN NIGHT FOR GB&NI
Sammi Kinghorn (coach: Rodger Harkins, club: Red Star) regained her World Para Athletics Championships T53 100m title in supreme style in Paris, setting a new Championship record on a night when the British team claimed a further two medals with Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood) winning bronze in a relatively rare outing in the T38 200m.
Kinghorn had admitted after winning 800m silver earlier in the week in the French capital that middle-distance might be her thing however she proved herself to once again be the queen of the sprint, regaining the women’s T53 100m title she first won in 2017 in a blistering Championship record of 15.93 seconds.
Meanwhile Hahn, who is extremely lightly raced in the women’s T38 200m, having only run it once since the last World Championships in 2019, showed little rust to claim her second bronze in Paris in 26.35 as Hungarian Luca Ekler took 0.14 off the Brit’s world record, clocking 25.78 on the way to gold.
Immediately before Hahn’s bronze, Hannah Taunton (Charlotte Fisher, Taunton) finally made her second appearance at the World Championships after six days of waiting in the women’s T20 1500m but, try as she might, she couldn’t find the small margin needed to finish on the podium as she placed an agonising fourth in 4:33.07 minutes.
Columba Blango (Chris Zah, Shaftesbury Barnet) was the only British athlete not to compete in a final on the night, and, despite being run out of an automatic qualifying spot in his men’s T20 400m heat, his race up to that point and his time of 48.19 was more than enough to see him through to his own medal showdown.
Kinghorn became the sixth different British athlete to win a title at these Championships so far with gold in the T53 100m – Hahn’s bronze pushing the team to 16 medals overall with three days to go – and the newly crowned champion said: “I wanted to become world champion, and to do it today is an incredible feeling.
“I was really chilled going into it, but I honestly didn’t think I had it in me. I knew I had to focus on my own race. All I could control was myself, so my coach left me with the simple words of ‘fast, fast, fast!’. Even when I crossed the line I didn’t know if I had won it, so I was just waiting for my name to come up. When it did, it was such an incredible feeling.”
With a highly competitive field lined up in the women’s T53 100m, there was a sense of not knowing what might happen in the final in Paris but by the end of it there was to be no denying Kinghorn her golden moment again.
She got a great start alongside Switzerland’s Catherine Debrunner, already a holder of three titles so far this week in Paris, and Paralympic gold medallist and defending world champion Gao Fang of China but stormed away over the final 50m to finish with a Championship record 15.93.
So impressive was Kinghorn’s performance no one else ducked under 16 seconds with Debrunner second in 16.06 and Fang third in 16.23. Six years ago Kinghorn had a memorable World Championships in London as she won 100m and 200m gold as well as 400m bronze.
She now has the 100m title back in her trophy cabinet and silver in the 800m and said: “I knew I was in good shape and I’ve been dragged around to fast times in training. I’ve been training with Hannah [Cockroft] and Nathan [Maguire] so they have been pushing me hard. I knew I had been in good company and pushing really well, but I didn’t know I could become world champion.
“It was such a close race. Catherine doesn’t want to run away with it, she wants to be pushed. It makes it so much more exciting. To push her all the way and beat her to the line is an amazing feeling.”
Hahn, bronze medallist in the women’s T38 100m, had only raced once over the half-lap distance this season prior to lining up in the women’s T38 200m final and that – her time in that race back in May was run into an illegal wind – would have contributed to her being drawn in lane one.
She didn’t let that phase her however and stormed out of the blocks to set the challenge to the rest of the field. As they came out of the bend, Hahn was in a line with Darian Jimenez of Columbia and Ekler of Hungary with gold anyone’s at that stage.
Hahn battled all the way to the line and would take bronze in 26.35 as Ekler Hungary lowered the Brit’s world record set at the last World Championships in 2019 with a time of 25.78. Jimenez took silver ahead of Hahn in 26.04.
With two bronze medals now won in Paris, Hahn has one more chance for success in the 4x100m universal relay and she said: “It did feel a long way but before I came I had three targets which are written on my wrist – commit, whip [off the bend] and stand tall, and I feel like I achieved all of those so I’m happy.
“It’s a long way, I’m not going to lie, but I quite liked lane one because it’s almost like you have people on the outside, so it’s a good lane – it gives you that extra kick. I am so glad I made the podium.
“The 200m isn’t my best event so I am very happy to come away with a season’s best and a bronze medal. It’s incredible – Luca Ekler and Darian Jimenez – they’re all fantastic athletes and it’s a great rivalry. I have a lot of respect for them.”
Taunton – and Blango – have had to wait until the sixth evening of the Championships to take to the track in anger in Paris and she was part of a group of four that quickly broke away in the early stages of the women’s T20 1500m final.
They created a five-metre gap between the rest of the field but were effectively caught up with two laps to, with Taunton still very much in the mix in third at this stage. There was some jostling involving the Brit down the home straight of the penultimate lap, by which point that original group of four had broken away again.
After the bell, Taunton was really strong down the back straight however Liudmyla Danylina of Ukraine was equal to it. By 200m to go, the four were stretched out but Taunton soon began the chasing down of Danylina with the pair side by side with 100m to go.
Taunton had to go wide to pass the Ukrainian but try as she might – which she more than did – she couldn’t edge ahead for bronze and finished an agonising fourth in 4:33.07. She said: “I enjoyed the experience. It was very helpful that there were some people to chase as well. I thought I was better sticking with the other athletes at the front because that would help me run really well which I did.
“I am very pleased with my performance, I would have liked a medal, and I tried my best, but I am still happy. I have been working really hard in training coming into the Championships with a lot of tempo training and a lot of speed session as well, so it has been going really well.”
Blango was the first of the British quartet to compete on the night and got off to a great start in the second of the men’s T20 400m heats. He blasted out of the blocks in third, before moving up to second on the back straight.
By halfway he was in the lead, something he held through the next 100m and, even when the field caught up with him, an automatic qualifying spot still looked comfortable. Blango would miss out on the top three at the line however as Daniel Tavares of Brazil was adjudged to have finished ahead of him.
There was nothing in it though and Blango’s time of 48.19 was easily enough for a spot in the final. He said: “It feels good, that was a bit of a challenge for my first World Championships – but I just did my best in the heat and now I’m here now.
“I stuck to my game plan – the others started coming and I thought I’d had the race – but it’s okay, I’m happy to advance. I’m feeling confident, there are some things I can still work on, but it’s all a learning curve so I’m just taking it as it comes. It’s a privilege, not one that comes every day, but I enjoy it.”
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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