11th July 2023
ODUWAIYE MARKS WORLD DEBUT WITH SIXTH IN DISCUS
Funmi Oduwaiye (coach: Josh Clark, club: Cardiff & The Vale Schs) marked her World Para Athletics Championships debut with a fine sixth-place finish as the only British athlete to compete in a final on the third morning in Paris.
Oduwaiye earned selection having not long competed on the senior stage but she showed maturity beyond her experience to throw a season’s best 32.79m to place sixth in her very first world women’s F64 discus final, and better yet she still has the shot put to come.
Fellow world debutants Mel Woods (Rodger Harkins, Red Star) and Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) both also went search of their own place in a final in the heats of the women’s T54 800m however they missed out in fiercely contested races.
Oduwaiye was not only making her World Championship debut but had the honour of being the first British athlete to compete on the third morning in Paris and got off to a great start in the circle for the women’s F64 discus final.
With her very first effort she threw further than she has all season, registering 32.79m to slot into fifth place. A foul followed with her second attempt before Oduwaiye registered a 32.11m effort third time out.
Unfortunately from thereon in the world debutant couldn’t register another mark in Paris but it didn’t impact her overall standing too much as she finished her competition in sixth place.
Oduwaiye said: “It was good, I’m very excited to be here after only throwing for a short amount of time. I managed to come sixth so I’m happy with that, there’s not more I could ask for really. The throwing circle was a bit worn out, so every throw I had to change places and try different places which didn’t work for me as I wanted it to, as I got three no throws.
“Having people watching me, more than I’m used to, and getting used to that environment – just being able to coach myself to calm down when I need to and get excited when I need to – I think that has all helped in terms of looking ahead to the Paralympic Games next year.
“I only started throwing a year ago and just had the Welsh Championships before I came out here, so it’s a huge step up. At the next World Championships hopefully it will be possible to push myself even more.”
Woods was the first to go in the heats of the women’s T54 800m and the field was reduced to four and given a boost with American 5000m bronze medallist from day two, Susannah Scaroni, not starting.
Woods raced a good race to initially cross in fourth however would suffer a cruel fate as she was disqualified for a lane infringement. Rainbow-Cooper meanwhile arrived back on the track with confidence having finished fourth in that women’s T54 5000m final.
She was well and truly in the mix as the third of the three heats turned into a sprint down the home straight however she just missed out, placing fifth in a time of 1:48.60 minutes. That third heat was by far the quickest of the three but Rainbow-Cooper needed to be among the two fast non-automatic qualifiers and cruelly placed third among them.
She said: “It went pretty well – the 800m is not really my distance, it’s a bit short for me. I went into it thinking ‘just attack’, and I did that so I’m happy with how I did. It was a really strong field so I couldn’t really be happier.
“A lot for me is about tactics and positioning – I maybe positioned myself a little bit wrong being on the inside, so it’s just about re-watching the races, seeing how the others were behind me and possibly coming up with a different game plan.
“It’s super experience, this is the biggest competition I’ve ever been at and I’m hoping to get to the Paralympics next year – so just coming here, I wasn’t really expecting anything from any of my races. Just getting the experience of being at a major championship and seeing how everything works is really vital for me.”
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medallists:
GOLD:  Gavin Drysdale [Men’s T72 100m], Jonathan Broom-Edwards [Men’s T64 high jump]
SILVER:  Rafi Solaiman [Men’s T72 100m]
BRONZE:  Zac Shaw [Men’s T12 100m], Danny Sidbury [Men’s T54 5000m]
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