13th July 2023
RAINBOW-COOPER SIXTH & COCKROFT SETS CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD ON FINE MORNING AT WORLDS
Eden Rainbow-Cooper (coach: Jenny Archer, club: Weir Archer Academy) finished sixth in the women’s T54 1500m final and Hannah Cockroft (Paul Moseley, Leeds) made an impressive statement to her rivals in the heats of the women’s T34 100m as the World Para Athletics Championships continued for the British team in Paris.
Rainbow-Cooper, racing for the fourth time already at these World Championships, was the only British athlete in finals action as proceedings began nearing the halfway stage in the French capital and can be proud of her sixth-place in 3:24.04 minutes in an extremely competitive field in the women’s T54 1500m.
In stark contrast to Rainbow-Cooper, who has barely been off the track in Paris, Paralympic and world champion and world record holder Cockroft has had to wait until the ninth session to appear for the first time – but it was more than worth the wait as she powered to a Championship record of 16.67 seconds in the first of the women’s T34 100m heats.
British teammate Fabienne André (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) made certain of her progress in that first heat as a non-automatic qualifier in 19.55 while the third of the GB&NI athletes in the event, Kare Adenegan (Job King, Coventry), won the second heat in comfortable fashion herself in 17.70 to guarantee a clean sweep of progress.
The performance of the trio in the women’s T34 100m also meant that all five British athletes who were bidding for finals during the session in Paris successfully completed the job with Danny Sidbury (Chris Parsloe, Sutton & District) and Nathan Maguire (Ste Hoskins, Kirkby AC) advancing to the men’s T54 1500m final.
Rainbow-Cooper has been arguably the busiest British athlete at these World Championships having already finished fourth in the 5000m and progressed to finals in the 800m and this women’s T54 1500m.
In an extremely competitive final field, Rainbow-Cooper battled valiantly to be in the mix and made a move around the bend on the third lap in order to get herself into a good position for when the pace went up at the bell.
That injection did come and, while the medals were out of reach for Rainbow-Cooper, she went about picking off the field in fine style, moving from ninth at one stage to cross the line in sixth in 3:24.04.
She added: “There was a lot of moving parts but it was really, really fun so I’m happy with how I performed. I had a few slight hiccoughs but there were a lot of girls in that race. Trying to think while pushing fast – it’s a lot, but I loved every second.
“That was probably the most tactical race – in the 5000m the tactics tend to be similar; the 800m is just go, go, go, so the 1500m for me is definitely the most tactical race, and I love it. That’s the reason why I love the long distance because it’s not all just about your physical ability, it’s about being able to think at the same time and trying to predict what everyone else is going to move like.”
Cockroft has been in stunning form this season, winning every women’s T34 100m race she’s entered, and she powered through the first heat to set that Championship record of 16.67 (0.9), finishing a clear 2.44 ahead of the rest of the field and eventually 1.03 overall after teammate Adenegan put in a very similar performance from her outing.
The reigning Paralympic and world champion and world record holder over the 100m was joined in her heat by teammate André who focussed on her own race to clock 19.55 for fourth and a place in the final as a non-automatic qualifier and Cockroft said: “I am really pleased with the time. I wasn’t quite sure where I was to be honest coming into the race and sometimes you just need a confidence boost. So that is exactly what it has provided ahead of the final. I’d like to go a bit quicker. I’ve done a 16.2 this year and a 16.6 isn’t really where I want to be but normally I have had some familiarisation coming into a race and the first time I hit the stadium was this morning.
“It was a bit of a quick get used to how it feels. It was amazing to have a crowd and you have to get used to that again and now we are all set for the final. The last time we had heats in the 100m was 2013 so ten years ago. It has been ten years of straight finals so to see more girls coming through and to see how close the times are, that is exactly what the class needs and I am so happy to see it building.”
It’s unlikely Adenegan would have taken much notice of the first heat of the women’s T34 100m but her race struck a similar tone to Cockroft’s as she powered past the field to win comfortably – her time of 17.70 (1.2) almost a full two seconds ahead of everyone else as she laid down her own marked ahead of the final.
Maguire took out the first heat of the men’s T54 1500m and led for much of the first two laps before the field began jockeying ahead of a likely last 400m sprint. Maguire was never outside the top two up to that point and, as expected, that sprint came.
Maguire did well not to get too boxed in and maintained his composure over the final 200m. He would miss out on the top three and an automatic qualifying spot but fourth place in that heat in 3:19.07 would eventually be enough to see him through.
He said: “This is the first time I’ve competed at a worlds in the 1500m for GB, so the fact I get to race on this stage and dictate the race a little bit is really exciting. Some of these guys have been doing it for longer than I’ve been alive, but I am starting to believe that I belong with them, and I can dictate races as much as they can.
“I was watching the second heat just hoping they would slow down. I didn’t get one of the automatic slots, so I was watching it closely. But it is exciting to make it through to my second world final this week.”
Indeed that second men’s T54 1500m heat, featuring Sidbury – out on the track for his third event in Paris after bronze in the 5000m and an agonising fourth in the 400m so far – was slower which the Brit admitted changed his tactics.
Sidbury sat in fifth for the first two laps before making his move on the third. A strong push on the backstraight on the last lap set Sidbury up beautifully for an automatic qualifying spot as he moved into second, a position he would brilliantly maintain, clocking 3:21.63.
He said: “We were all feeling reassured that the first heat was slow but we ended up going slower. It became tactical. I didn’t want to take risks, it was all about making that final, and I knew I had enough to get through comfortably.
“I was trying to stay safe so I moved out wide on the last lap as I didn’t want to risk getting boxed in. You are watching everyone’s moves and at the bell some people tend to get twitchy but thankfully it was a clean race.”
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]
SILVER:  Rafi Solaiman [Men’s T72 100m], Sammi Kinghorn [Women’s T53 800m]
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]
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