12th November 2019


Sophie Hahn (coach: Leon Baptiste; club: Charnwood) produced one of the performances of the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai as she lowered her own world record yet again in the women’s 100m T38 to retain her crown and win her seventh major global international title.

The clear highlight of the evening session, Hahn showed superb focus after the field was twice asked to stand up, running the perfect race and taking 0.05 seconds off the world record she lowered in Loughborough in May, clocking 12.38s (+1.0) to win by over half a second.

That gave the British team their seventh gold of the Championships with the overall medal tally pushed to 19 after Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks; Harlow) claimed bronze in the men’s 400m T54 final, his final event of a long Championships in Dubai.

Elsewhere there was a welcome return to the global stage for Libby Clegg (Joe McDonnell; Charnwood) as she qualified for the women’s 200m T11 semi-finals just over 200 days since giving birth to her first child Edward. Clegg, and guide Tom Somers (Benke Blomkvist; Newham & Essex Beagles), clocked 26.69 (+0.8) in the fourth of four heats to begin her medal challenge.

Not only made to wait in the final but until well into the Championships to begin her campaign, Hahn could barely have asked for more as she flew out of the blocks with her start setting her on the way to the quickest major international gold of her career.

Such was her dominance, Hahn won by 0.51 ahead of Hungary’s Luca Ekler with Rhiannon Clarke (AUS) taking bronze in 12.94. British Teammate Olivia Breen (Aston Moore; City of Portsmouth), already a medallist herself with bronze in the long jump, battled but finished an agonising fourth in 13.22 while Ali Smith (Chris Zah; Guildford & Godalming) was sixth in 13.69.

Hahn said: “It was incredible. I did not expect to run that time. I wanted to get a good start and maintain that form and drive towards the line. I wanted to win the gold but I didn’t know if the world record was possible.

“I’m so happy that all the work I have put in has paid off. It is just amazing, I cannot believe I have run that time. This medal is very special to me. I need to rest up now to be ready for my 200m and make that final. It’s going to be another tough challenge but I’ll give it my all.”

Chiassaro got the session off to the perfect start in his final event as he powered his way to bronze in the men’s 400m T54 final for his first medal of the Championships in Dubai. He got off to a solid start and a concerted effort around the final bend effectively secured him a medal.

Chiassaro pushed away from his rivals with 200m to go, finishing the bend in third place, which he would comfortably maintain to claim bronze – matching his effort from the same event on home soil two years ago in London – in a time of 47.58.

He said: “I’m just happy to be here after everything I’ve been through. To come out with a medal from it is good. There are some really fast guys in that race, anyone of them could have come out in the medal position, so I’m really pleased with third. It just shows I am still medal potential after issues last year. I went from setting European records to pulling out of Europeans with illness. I’m going to relish every minute on that podium.”

Doubly Paralympic champion Clegg demonstrated confidence as if she had never been away from the track in the fourth of the four heats of the 200m T11, running a composed race with Somers as she recorded a season’s best 26.69 for second and sixth overall going into the semi-finals.

Clegg said: “It was very ropey but I’m very happy with it. It was hard work. Because I’ve not been on the international scene for so long, I was really worried going into it. I enjoyed it, I’m really happy with it.

“To be honest, I wasn’t really sure if I would make it through to the semi-finals. Just to be here is just amazing. Edward is seven months old tomorrow, so I didn’t think seven months ago I would be here. It has taken a lot of hard work to get here. It’s all pretty bonkers.

“I’m hating being away from home right now but there is a goal, and that is the Paralympics. At least I know I can leave him and I don’t get horrendously emotional, just a bit moody.

Somers added: “It was an absolute pleasure to guide her. I’ve seen the hard work she’s put in over the last few months, so it is really nice to be out here running with her. It’s been a fun journey to get here.”

Elsewhere Sophie Kamlish (Robert Ellchuk; Bristol & West), world champion from London 2017, finished a valiant sixth in the women’s 100m T64 final. Kamlish roared out of the blocks and was well and truly in medal contention at halfway but would place sixth at the line in 13.29.

Ola Abidogun (Grant Barker; Horwich) followed Kamlish onto the track but narrowly missed out on a podium finish himself in the men’s 100m T47 final. Abidogun – who ran a PB of 10.92 in his semi-final earlier in the day – ran a great second half but his time of 10.98 (+0.8) was narrowly shy of bronze as he placed sixth as well.

Earlier in the day, Vanessa Wallace (Alison O’Riordan; Enfield & Haringey) sealed bronze in the F34 shot put, confirmed with a personal best throw of 7.66m.