GB & NI Soar High in Swansea
Great Britain & Northern Ireland moved back into second place in the medal table at the IPC European Championships in Swansea after the team claimed 11 medals on the penultimate day of action in South Wales.
In a clean sweep at the Swansea University Track, debutant Jo Butterfield (Phil Peat/Shona Malcolm) claimed gold, Josie Pearson (Anthony Hughes) silver and Gemma Prescott (Mike Wood) bronze in the T32/51 club throw.
Butterfield, who made her international bow after making the transition from wheelchair rugby made the perfect start to her athletics career throwing out to a European record of 17.68m (1110) to finish ahead of Pearson 14.02m (941 points) and Prescott 20.39m (905 points).
The 35 year old discovered by the Girls4Gold programme said afterwards: “I can’t quite believe it – I want to pinch myself. It was a long wait – I had to wait for everybody else to throw and I was just trying to keep my head. It’s incredibly strange but a great feeling to have broken the European record.
“I know there is more to come – I’m very raw and I’ve got a lot of technique to work on. I’ve got a gold today and I want to win gold again in Rio.”
Dan Greaves (Jim Edwards) was in scintillating form on the field as the 31 year old obliterated the European T44 discus record with the throw of 62.34m – nearly two metres on his previous best earlier on in the competition. The four-time world medallist will be in confident mood as he prepares to face arch rival Jeremy Campbell on Sunday at the Sainsbury’s IPC Grand Prix Final.
Greaves said: “I knew I was in good shape coming into the competition. For me, gold comes first but to get a PB and European record is just phenomenal. I’m still pretty speechless to be honest. I really wanted to get the gold today and I’m delighted to get it here in Costa Del Swansea.
“That was a world lead today so he’s (Jeremy Campbell) only thrown 61 this year. I’m fully expecting on Sunday at the Sainsbury’s IPC Grand Final to get close to that 63m in the competition against Jeremy. “
The dominance of Hannah Cockroft (Jenni Banks) was severely tested by Mel Nicholls (Job King) in the T34 800m. In what was a fiercely tactical battle, Cockroft just had the edge in the home straight taking her second gold medal of the championships.
The double Paralympic, World and European champion said: “I have never been so nervous for a race in at the least the last four years so I woke up this morning with this horrible feeling in my tummy. I had to ask Mel what it was and she said that’ll be nerves – she said ‘I get it before every race with you Hannah’. It was a lot of fun – that’s the most excited I’ve been about winning a race for a long time.
“She gave me a hug at the end because she knows how nervous I was about that race. It’s nice to go out there and have a friendly face there and have someone who will be genuinely happy if you win and I would be happy if she won. Now we both get to go on the podium and share a very precious moment.”
Stef Reid (Rana Reider) underlined her position at the best T44 long jumper in the world after the 29 year old claimed European gold in Swansea. The world record holder was left with a nervy wait in round five after Marie-Amelie Le Fur came within four centimetres of the London 2012 silver medalist.
An elated Reid said afterwards: “I’m so happy - this is the first time I’ve won a title. It’s not the same as world records, this is first time I’m going to be able to stand in the middle of the podium and I don’t think I’ve really realised how much I’ve wanted this. London 2012 was great but it wasn’t my anthem, it didn’t feel 100% like my moment. I’m really excited and I’m really nervous, I just don’t know what it feels like. I’ve wanted to know for so long, this is a great way to end off the year.”
Mo Jomni (Jenny Archer) completed an exceptional debut with gold in the T53 400m. Initially the Weir Archer Academy athlete had been given silver, but following the disqualification of Pierre Fairbank, Jomni was upgraded to the major medal.
Jomni said: “I’m very delighted. It’s my first gold, professional medal and it’s unreal right now. I don’t know how others feel when they get their first gold medal but I’m very proud right now.
Archer added: “I’m very proud of him, he’s brought home a gold medal for GB and that’s fantastic. He’s a young athlete learning the trade and he’s got a lot more to learn but I think he’s on the right track, he’s got the right people around him, the right team support around him at the track and everything is just great and he’s got his two medals.”
Jonathan Broom-Edwards (Fuzz Ahmed) broke his personal best twice in one of the events of the day, which saw the world silver medallist sail over 2.15m. It was only a world record jump of 2.17m from world champion Maciej Lepiato,that prevented Broom-Edwards from taking gold.
In only her second competitive 400m race Sophie Hahn (Joe McDonnell) added another silver medal to the one she picked up in the T38 100m recording a new personal best of 1:07.16.
The 17 year old said: “I’m so over the moon to get silver and a personal best. It’s an honour to be on the podium. Not many 17 year old girls would get that chance. I’m looking forward to the relay now and another medal would be nice. My parents are here to watch me today too so it will be nice to see them soon.”
Bethany Woodward (Lee Doran) overcame illness that ruled her out of the T37 100m earlier in the week to claim a gutsy bronze in the 400m.
Woodward, who will line up in the T35-38 4x100m tomorrow said: “I didn’t actually realise I had won the bronze until I spoke to Channel 4 because I was in such a world of pain. I’m so pleased to be on that podium again in the 400m. It’s amazing to be in this position two years out from Rio.”