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Monday, 17 July 2017 23:16

KAMLISH AND COCKROFT CROWNED QUEEN OF THE WORLDS

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It was another golden night at the London Stadium as Sophie Kamlish sealed a remarkable first world title in the T44 100m as Hannah Cockroft increased her tally of world medals to a staggering nine with the T34 400m title.

Two bronzes for Kare Adenegan and Richard Whitehead increased the British Athletics teams total to 18 medals at the end of day four.

The stadium roared as Kamlish recaptured her form from the morning’s heats where she set a world record of 12.90, as she stormed to the gold in spectacular fashion, leading from the very first few steps before pulling away to win in 12.93 (-0.8). It seemed never in doubt to the athlete who was wearing her trademark flower in her hair, as she serenely moved to a triumph on the global stage.

She had only ever beaten the Dutch Paralympic and world champion Marlou van Rhijn once before earlier this year, and she had clearly taken confidence from that performance to repeat the act in London.

Kamlish reflected: “It was definitely a case of being very worried about the same as Rio [setting a world record in her heat and then finishing fourth]; my brain kept taking me back there, but I relaxed and focused on myself. I was so shocked, the whole day I’ve been nervous and I never feel that for races. Hopefully I can continue this now, I eased off in the heat so hopefully I can go quicker still.”

“The reaction from the crowd was amazing, obviously me and Laura got the biggest cheers as the GB girls and it was a great platform to go off.”

Behind Kamlish, compatriot Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) improved on her morning’s heat to finish in a wonderful fifth place with 13.49 after a strong start before fading a little at the 60m point.

“I thought I raced well, but I’m a bit disappointed now so I’ve seen the time,” said Sugar.

“I was next to Irmgard Bensusan who’s an incredible starter; I know her and Sophie are always out of the blocks first, so I knew that being next to her I could try and stay with her. I couldn’t quite pull away but I didn’t have it in the legs.”

‘Hurricane’ Hannah Cockroft produced another blistering display as she sealed her second world title of the championships, and her second one in the T34 400m, showing her class over the final lap to power away to victory. Fellow Briton Kare Adenegan sealed the bronze medal after a fast opening lap saw her in the lead before Cockroft and the ever-improving Alexa Halko of the USA overhauled her as they rounded the top bend.

After seeing her friend Sammi Kinghorn seal world gold on Saturday night, Cockroft was delighted to earn a second medal of the same colour on day four, with the hat trick still on when she competes over 400m on Thursday evening.

She achieved her ninth world title in a championship record time of 2:01.77, and commented afterwards: “The good thing about the 800m is that you see a different race every time.

“My plan is always to go out to the front and lead it; I don’t like to depend on another girl, but Kare did take it out tonight which was different. I didn’t really have a plan going out there though, it was more a case to ‘play it by here’ and produce the best performance I could. I haven’t really raced against Alexa [Halko] this year; I’ve raced against Kare once, so I genuinely had no idea what the plan was.”

Adenegan crossed the line in 2:05.76 whilst Carly Tait (Banks) completed her first world 800m final in fourth, recording a time of 2:21.61.

Speaking afterwards, Adenegan said: “I’m kind of gutted I didn’t get the silver – I knew I could have got it but I messed up a few things, but I’m young and still learning.

“I watch how Hannah races and learn each time – hopefully next time around it’ll come together better. The crowd were amazing; they gave me a big cheer and the encouragement was fantastic. It’s another international medal, but it’s bittersweet as I knew I could get the silver.”

Tait added: “I'm not happy with that time. I thought it would be quicker but every track and every conditions are different. I felt that I was with them after the first 100m but the trick is to try and stay with them for longer without feeling like you're dying.”

In one of the heavyweight showdowns of the evening, Richard Whitehead (Keith Antoine) was edged in bronze medal position as reigning world champion Scott Reardon of Australia took home the gold in the T42 100m.

Whitehead, who turns 41 on Wednesday, showed a burst of pace similar to the morning’s heat, recovering in the later stages to surge past the field to confirm his place on the rostrum and earn a bronze medal to accompany his gold from Saturday evening.

“It’s great to have another opportunity to race in front of the home crowd; I enjoy competing and I enjoy putting on the GB vest, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

“Unfortunately you have to accept the ups and downs in life, and I was beaten by two better guys today. I feel like my season began really well; I’d enjoyed running 12.17 in Switzerland and I came in here with a great platform, but I just wasn’t able to execute on it.”

“At one point that bronze medal could have slipped through, but I wanted to stand on that podium once again for my family who are at home watching, as well as myself; I’ve put a lot of hard work in.”

The T36 200m final contained a wealth of experience with both British competitors Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk) and Graeme Ballard (Trevor Painter) lining up to the now-typical ear-splitting reception from the home crowd.

Both set out well, running smooth bends, before the race, won by Australian James Turner in a world record time, began to get away from the pair. Pushing all the way to the line, Ballard clocked 25.51 for sixth, with Blake crossing the line in eighth posting 25.65.

“I tried my best to hold my form but they just came through me,” said Ballard.

“I tried to run my race and I'm disappointed but I bet I got close to a season's or a personal best again; you can't ask more than that, I did my best out there”

For Blake, it’s a case of back to the drawing board as he remarked: “I don't feel like I executed the race very well. I am not sure why, I just felt a bit tight.”

Attention turned to the endurance events later in the schedule as Steve Morris (James Thie) and James Hamilton (Mark Kirk) took to the track for the T20 1500m. In fine form this year, Morris led the race out boldly up until 600m to go, at which point American and eventual winner Michael Brannigan led a surge of three past the Welshman.

Continuing to fight for bronze coming off the final bend, Poland’s Rafal Korc held his form and stepped on the gas to claim the final medal, with Morris less than two seconds behind in 3:58.79, a season’s best.

Asked about his race, Morris said: “I went two seconds too quick for the first two laps; it’s just that the crowd is so inspiring. I wanted to do it for the crowd. It was good practice for Tokyo - now bring on the Europeans next year in Berlin.”

Hamilton adopted much the opposite tactic in the race, opting to sit and watch what those in front of him produced before beginning to make a move on the front-runners. Motoring well, the Ballymena Runners athlete pushed on to take sixth in 4:01.78, also a season’s best.

The final track action of the evening saw Ben Rowlings (Job King) and Isaac Towers (Peter Wyman) go over 400m in the T34 class. Pushing out from the gun, the pace was immediately notched up to rapid-fire by Walid Ktila of Tunisia, leaving the British pair caught out slightly.

Both enduring slightly ragged races initially before finding rhythm on the home straight, it was to be fifth and seventh respectively with times of 54.34 and 54.66, both of which were not totally indicative of the form the pair have showed this calendar year.

Rowlings said: “It was scrappy, really scrappy. I didn’t find any rhythm or momentum until the last 150m. I’ve pushed close to three seconds quicker than that this year; it was a long wait out there but it was the same for all the guys.”

“In a 400m you just have to race your own race, my start isn’t the strongest in the 400m and I know that, but I’ve got to go back and put it to one side. It was a bump in the road tonight; the longer I go the stronger I’ll get, so it’s about looking forward.”

For Towers, a case of looking forward and taking positives was presented, as he said: “It is the first time that I’ve raced in a big stadium like this and it was great to see so many people staying so late on a weekday to see the race.

“I felt I pushed a good race but like every athlete you are always wanting perfection. The 800m is my better race and I’ve got some things that I can take from tonight for that.”

Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks) was involved in a dramatic crash on the final bend before the home straight which wiped two Chinese athletes out of the race. The Briton was later disqualified but the race will be re-run on Saturday 22nd July.

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