16th April 2020


This week we’re continuing our series of flash backs to memorable British moments in the sport over the decades. Here we rewind almost 20 years to a sensational Sydney and the 2000 Paralympic Games.

It was a stellar Games for the British athletics team as they won 48 medals on the track and in the field, six more than in Atlanta four years prior, and also moving to second in the medal table behind the hosts, Australia.

One of the stars of the games was Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who arrived Down Under with five Paralympic titles to her name from the Barcelona and Atlanta Games.

Competing over four events in the T53 classification, Grey-Thompson was going for the hat-trick of titles over the 800 metres. Starting in lane three she commanded the race from the opening 100m, hitting the front at the break and holding a significant advantage over her opponents. Controlling the proceedings from the front, she pushed on over the final 200m leaving the American duo of Jessica Galli and Cheri Blauwet to fight it out for the other podium positions as she won by over three seconds.

Three further titles came in the 100m, 200m and 400m leading to a clean sweep of medals in her events making her the only British athlete on the team to win four Paralympic titles at those Games.

Among the 11 gold medal winners for Great Britain and Northern Ireland in athletics at the Games was 20 year-old Stephen Miller who claimed his second Paralympic title in the F32/51 club throw.

Miller, who won world bronze back in 2017, sealed his maiden Paralympic title at the age of 16 in America, and was back in the hunt for gold on the other side of the world four years later.

The Cramlington man would also take the bronze medal in the discus throw to increase his Paralympic medal tally to three overall. 20 years on, Miller is targeting his seventh Games next year in Tokyo.

Another athlete who won his first major medal in Sydney, and like Miller is aiming for Tokyo in 2021, is Dan Greaves who won silver in the F44/46 discus. This began a run of five consecutive Paralympic Games at which he has won a medal – an astonishing record.

At his first major Games, Greaves adapted well to the environment, throwing a best of 46.04 metres which secured him the silver ahead of France’s Lutovico Halagahu. Shawn Brown from the USA won with a best of 47.96 metres. However, the British athlete would have many big Paralympic moments ahead of him during his career.

Another popular medallist was the late Bob Matthews. Competing in the T11 category for athletes with a visual impairment, he had been an ever-present figure in British teams since the 1984 Games in Stoke Mandeville / New York.

The seven-time medallist arrived in Sydney facing a challenging task across the 5000 metres, 10,000m and marathon as he aimed to add to his title tally.

The 10,000m was his crowning glory in the Olympic Stadium, running alongside guide Paul Harwood, to claim the eighth title of his career. But it was tight finish as he beat the Portuguese, Carlos Amaral Ferreria by three seconds from 35:23.07 to 35:26.40.

The latter would later pip Matthews’ to gold in the marathon but with silver there and also in the 5000m, it further enhanced his stellar list of achievements in the sport.

Among the eight further gold medallists from Sydney were Deborah Brennan, Kenny Churchill, Caroline Innes, Christopher Martin, Sally Reddin, Hazel Robson, Noel Thatcher and Lloyd Upsdell who all delivered incredible performances on the biggest stage of their careers.