Saturday, 22 July 2017 07:28

COX BACK ON TOP TO ASSERT DOMINANCE OVER ONE LAP

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Last year’s Paralympic champion in the discipline, Kadeena Cox tonight sprinted to golden glory in the T38 400m at the World Para Athletics Championships in London.

Britain’s 14th gold medal at the World Para Athletics Championships, Cox’s winning time of 1:02.87 was a season’s best by just under two seconds, and her first world title over the distance.

Like yesterday’s T37 400m victor Georgie Hermitage, Cox has competed in just one 400m in 2017, clocking 64.03 in Loughborough back in June, a modest time compared to her world-record of 60.71 set in Rio.

Running in lane five, the Yorkshire-born athlete showed her intent from the early stages, showing the steely determination which saw her medal in two sports at last summer’s Paralympic Games. Her lead was an impressive one after the first 100m, and it further extended as she turned into the home straight as the adoring crowd roared her on.

Coupled with the 200m bronze won on last Saturday, tonight’s gold takes Cox’s global medal tally for athletics to seven, while the 26-year-old still has the 100m to come tomorrow evening.

Post-race Cox said: “The 400m is hurting me right now but I think I have still got adrenaline pumping from that race. The plan was always to go off hard for the first 300m and the rest would feel like death! I was meant to go hard for the first 50m and sit in, but I didn’t do the sit in part so at 200m, I had no idea how far ahead I was. I just kept running because I knew there was no going back after that. It wasn’t a world record which I would have liked to have done but I’ve not had the training really to do that, only three months, so I have to be pleased.

“It was amazing to get back out there, the noise was just incredible. I got through that race because of them. At 300m mark, I was not feeling it. The roar did lift me and that is probably why I went off a little too fast.”

On her chances in the T38 100m tomorrow, she added:

“Do you know, if I can keep this type of energy through to tomorrow (for her 100m) then I’ll be alright. My aim is to win another medal – I wanted to win three medals coming in so we just need to tick off the third now.”

Lining up in the T36 400m final, the only other final to feature a Briton this evening, 2016 Paralympic champion Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk) was looking to add another medal to his growing global collection but he sadly just missed out of the podium positions.

Blake faced stiff opposition to gold in the form of Australia’s James Turner, and in his efforts to chase down his opponent; the fast finishing pair of Poland’s Krzysztof Cuiksza and Keegan Pitcher from New Zealand overhauled the Briton in the closing 50m to claim the medal places.

Blake, who finished fourth in a season’s best of 55.79 said: “It is not the ideal place to finish; nobody wants to finish in fourth. I went through the first 200m a bit quickly and I paid the price for it in the end. I suffered from pace misjudgement today. By the end the lactic had kicked in and I had nothing left.

“I tried to give it all I had; I tried to stay relax but my little legs just couldn’t hold out.”

Featuring Steve Morris (James Thie) and James Hamilton (Mark Kirk) in heats one and two respectively, the preliminary round of the T20 800m saw the first three from each heat gain automatic qualification followed by the two next fastest non-qualifiers.

Northern Ireland’s James Hamilton produced the best performance of his young career over the distance, setting a lifetime best of 1:59.40 after a confident run to place in third place and confirm his place in his second world final.

After a solidly paced first lap, the Ballymena athlete pushed on down the back straight to open up gaps amongst the field. An injection of pace on the top bend of the second lap made the difference and despite being passed by heat winner and Paralympic champion Mike Brannigan of the USA, he maintained his form to seal third place as Sylwester Jaciuk just edged ahead on the line.

Hamilton commented afterwards: “I felt very comfortable on the first lap. There were three guys in front of me at the bell, and I felt good so I went for it. I just took myself out of my comfort zone on that last lap, and the crowd really helped. It is a personal best so I am very happy, and I am delighted to reach the final.”

In the second heat, the tactics were completely different as Steve Morris pushed on in the early stages, opening up a significant lead by the 150m mark. He held this lead for the duration, and even had chance to ease down in the closing stages to take the victory in 2:00.35, and go into tomorrow’s final in confident mood.

The Cardiff-based athlete added: “I feel happy now; I can relax. I did what I planned to do, and that was to go out strongly. I cannot wait for the final!

“The false starts did put me off a little bit but I tried not to panic and tried to stay relaxed.”

of my life in front of this home crowd. If I do make the final then obviously anything can happen.

“After not doing as I wanted to do in the 100m, coming out here and doing what I’ve done in the 200m is a big learning curve for me. So I’m happy either way.”

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